President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus arrived in St. Petersburg to be met at the airport by Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev, regional governor Valeri Serdyukov and other high officials.
Messrs. Lukashenko and Yakovlev will debate blueprints for Belarus Days to be celebrated in St. Petersburg, and Belarussian contribution to St. Petersburg tricentennial foundation galas, the President said to newsmen.
Belarus is eager to export its buses, trolleybuses and other industrial commodities to St. Petersburg. The President hopes to enhance the trade turnover with the city to a billion US dollars. The current Belarus-Moscow turnover is close to three billion, and put together, they may account for more than 25% of the total Belarussian foreign trade turnover of $15 billion--a prospect to which he looks forward.
Russia and Belarus together have "three fine cities linked by history and destiny, and the blood they shed together" during World War II. Those are St. Petersburg (Leningrad in the Soviet years), Minsk and Moscow. "It is my cherished dream to limit [Belarussian] commercial and economic contacts to the two Russian cities, as it was in the Soviet times," said President Lukashenko, half in joke.