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Belarus, Iran leaders happy with outcome of Minsk visit

17:47 22/05/2007
MINSK (Belarus), May 22 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Belarus and Iran, both outspoken opponents of Western powers, concluded talks in Minsk Tuesday, which brought a long-sought energy deal to the ex-Soviet state and assurances of political support to Teheran.

Speaking at a news conference following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's May 21-22 official visit to the ex-Soviet nation, Alexander Lukashenko said: "We are satisfied with the results of the talks and the agreements reached... Iran is ready to help Belarus diversify its energy supplies."

Ahmadinejad agreed Monday to allow Belarus to develop its Jofeir oil and gas deposit. Minsk is also looking to refine oil in Iran, send crude home, or sell it to regional states. It would be the first energy project abroad for Belarus, which has so far unsuccessfully sought a part in oil production in Russia and Venezuela in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian supplies.

"Energy dependence on one country is a huge problem for us. We have spoken openly about it," Lukashenko said Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad, who earlier called Lukashenko "one of my best friends," praised their mutual resolve with Belarus to back each other in international affairs.

"We have agreed to pursue a policy of solidarity on the international arena," he said. "The big powers that are trying to impose their hegemony will have to succumb to the strong will of our nations."

Lukashenko, famously dubbed "Europe's last dictator" for his crackdown on democracy and human rights and denied the right to travel to the U.S. and the EU, assured that Belarus "will do everything it can for Iran for the understanding it has displayed for the Belarusians."

Iran, already under UN diplomatic and economic restrictions over its defiance of international demands to halt its controversial nuclear programs, faces a third round of sanctions as the Security Council gathers Wednesday to hear a report on progress in its nuclear activities.

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RIA NovostiBelarus, Iran leaders happy with outcome of Minsk visit

17:47 22/05/2007 The presidents of Belarus and Iran, both outspoken opponents of Western powers, concluded talks in Minsk Tuesday, which brought a long-sought energy deal to the ex-Soviet state and assurances of political support to Teheran. >>

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