Putin offers to create Russia-Belarus 'currency pool'

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Moscow, Oct 6 (UNI) Russia is in favuor of creating a ''currency pool'' with Belarus and expanding the use of the Russian rouble in bilateral trade, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said today during talks with his Belarusian counterpart Sergei Sidorsky.

Putin, who is currently on a visit to Minks, said he was surprised by the fact that both Russia and Belarus used the US currency in the implementation of large-scale energy projects.

"Meanwhile, the problems that have challenged the US economy and the US currency system are well known. Therefore, it is right to think about what I have said. This is important for the Russian national currency," he said.

On his part, Sidorsky made a point that Russia and Belarus should coordinate their actions in the economic sphere amid the changing global situation.

Russia and Belarus have been in talks since 1997 over the creation of a Union State. However, a host of issues including energy and financial disputes, as well as division of power had complicated the negotiations.

Putin also said the introduction of the Russian rouble as the common currency for the Union State was still on the agenda.

"This will be quite a natural and relaxed move, with the creation of compulsory safety margins, taking into account both Russian interests and the national interests of the Republic of Belarus," he said.

Both Russia and Belarus have discussed introducing the Russian rouble as the single currency in the Union State for several years now as disagreements persist over several monetary issues between the two ex-Soviet republics.

Russia insists that a single money issuing centre be set up in Moscow while Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is also seeking issuing powers for his republic.

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