Lukashenko calls for non-Russian partners

MINSK, Belgium, May 29 (UPI) -- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told members of his Cabinet Friday they should focus on finding financial partners other than Russia.

RIA Novosti said Lukashenko's comments during a Cabinet session in the Belarusian capital of Minsk came amid a conflict between Belarus and Russia over a $500 million loan.

"If things go wrong with Russia, do not bow down (to it), do not whine and weep, seek fortune in a different part of the globe," Lukashenko told Cabinet members.

During a meeting Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin were unable to reach a deal with Belarusian officials regarding Russia's $500 million stabilization loan to Belarus.

Kudrin said Belarusian officials wanted the loan in U.S. dollars and not Russian rubles as offered by Russia.

RIA Novosti said the $500 million is the final part of a $2 billion loan from Russia to Belarus to help the troubled Belarusian economy. The loan included a $1 billion payment in late 2008 and a $500 million loan in March.



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