Putin to meet with Kazakh, Belarusian, Ukrainian leaders


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will pay a working visit to Kazakhstan on Thursday, and will attend a planned meeting in Astana of the Council of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Friday, the Russian government said on Wednesday.

The program of Putin's visit includes meetings with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Minister Karim Masimov, the government press service told Interfax.

"There is a plan to hold an in-depth exchange of opinions on issues of bilateral relations with an emphasis on cooperation in trade and the economy, fuel and energy, and transportation industries. Special attention is planned to be paid to the theme of building the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus," the press service said.

Putin also plans to meet with the Belarusian and Ukrainian prime ministers, Sergei Sidorsky and Yulia Tymoshenko, during his visit.

His meeting with Tymoshenko offers Putin a chance to obtain explanations of a reported statement by Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko that it is possible that Ukrainian national oil and gas company Naftogaz may not be able to pay for gas imported from Russia.

If that happens, Naftogaz will have to pay with assets, Yuschenko said in the statement, published in the press. However, he said, he would do his best to prevent this happening.



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