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The question of issuing centers remains the main stumbling block in negotiations between Russia and Belarus over a single currency
The question of issuing centers remains the main stumbling block in negotiations between Russia and Belarus over a single currency, an official said Wednesday. The effort is part of a drive by the two ex-Soviet neighbors to create a Union State. The introduction of the Russian ruble as a single currency has been postponed many times since negotiations to re-establish a union began in 1997. Talks have been complicated by a host of issues, including energy disputes and a tug-of-war between the leaderships. Albert Stepanov, deputy state secretary of the Russia-Belarus union, told journalists that Russia sees the Central Bank as a single issuing center under the management of the unified bank's board, while Belarus is insisting on setting up two issuing centers, in Moscow and in Minsk. He said 85% of Belarusian-Russian trade is settled in rubles through non-cash payments. Russia's Vladimir Putin and Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko last set January 2006 as the date for introducing a single currency. But Russia's parliamentary speaker said Tuesday following a session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State that Moscow and Minsk have failed to coordinate issues for the launch of a single currency. However, he highlighted the importance of further efforts, adding the countries were maintaining an intensive dialogue focused on welfare, humanitarian and military matters, as well as on border protection.
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