Belarus has agreed to hold high-level talks with Moscow on joining a Russia-dominated customs union, the Kremlin said after Russia and Kazakhstan launched the bloc without Belarus.
The bloc is expected to boost Moscow’s influence in the region but could complicate World Trade Organisation membership talks. Belarus dropped its plans to join amid a dispute with Moscow over oil tariffs.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and agreed to continue discussion of the customs union at high-level bilateral talks due to take place in the coming days, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Negotiations on Belarus’ membership stalled as Russia refused to abolish export duties on the oil it sells Minsk. Analysts view duty-free oil exports as a key incentive for the former Soviet republic to join the pact. (Reuters)