Vice-premier on common payment unit to be used by Russia, Belarus

President Putin met Monday with Vice-Premier, Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin to listen to his report on the Minsk session of a working group, attended by Kudrin's Belarussian counterpart and the two countries' central bank chairmen. High on the agenda in Minsk was an agreement to introduce from January 1, 2005 the Russian rouble as a single payment unit on the territory of the union state. The preparation of the agreement can be considered over, said Kudrin.

He expressed the hope that the government would be able to ensure the rouble's reliable stable circulation with the preservation of all its positive parameters and its likelihood of positive impact on certain indices of the Belarussian economy.

The finance minister accounts for this by the fact that the rouble is now enjoying confidence throughout the world and winning positive attitudes because of, among other things, the decreased inflation and stability toward world currencies. Besides, this will mean another impetus for integration, added Kudrin.

The vice-premier reported about his meeting with Belarussian Prime Minister Gennady Novitsky and about a two-hour conference with President Lukashenko when the sides concentrated on different aspects of the agreement.

In the opinion of Kudrin, the Minsk talks have had most favourable results. Russia has succeeded in upholding definite positions and meeting certain wishes expressed by Belarus.

Kudrin believes that the sides will be able to come to terms by the end of the next week and the agreement will be then submitted for government consideration.

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