Russia, Belarus to sign air defense pact

SOCHI, Russia, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Russian officials say they will sign a pact creating a unified air defense system with Belarus after a meeting between the countries' leaders.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarussian leader, on Tuesday at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, reported RIA Novosti.

Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko said the two presidents agreed to meet in Moscow this fall, when "an agreement on building a unified air defense system will be signed."

The air defense pact would be part of proposals to create a "Union State," which has been discussed since 1997, and would include a common economic, customs, and political space, the report said. Talks had broken down recently over issues such as natural gas prices.

But military cooperation between the countries is reportedly gaining momentum in response to recent United States efforts to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.



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