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Lukashenko calls for non-Russian partners

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Lukashenko calls for non-Russian partners
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Belorussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko visit the Brest Fortress World War II memorial (225 miles) southwest of Minsk, Belarus, on June 22, 2008. This day in 1941, the garrison of the 19-century built fortress in the town of Brest was one of the first Red Army troops to confront the Nazi Germany's Army attack on the Soviet Union in World War II. It held the line for over a month. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov) | License Photo

MINSK, Belgium, May 29 (UPI) -- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told members of his Cabinet Friday they should focus on finding financial partners other than Russia.

RIA Novosti said Lukashenko's comments during a Cabinet session in the Belarusian capital of Minsk came amid a conflict between Belarus and Russia over a $500 million loan.

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"If things go wrong with Russia, do not bow down (to it), do not whine and weep, seek fortune in a different part of the globe," Lukashenko told Cabinet members.

During a meeting Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin were unable to reach a deal with Belarusian officials regarding Russia's $500 million stabilization loan to Belarus.

Kudrin said Belarusian officials wanted the loan in U.S. dollars and not Russian rubles as offered by Russia.

RIA Novosti said the $500 million is the final part of a $2 billion loan from Russia to Belarus to help the troubled Belarusian economy. The loan included a $1 billion payment in late 2008 and a $500 million loan in March.

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