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Belarus leader says has deal with Putin to refinance $1 billion loan

FILE PHOTO: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the Sirius Educational Center in the Black sea resort of Sochi, Russia February 15, 2019. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS//File Photo

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said he had agreed the refinancing of a $1 billion loan with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the issue would be discussed by the country’s prime ministers in talks on Thursday, the RIA news agency reported.

Lukashenko also said all of Belarus’ gold reserves had been returned home but did not give details, state news agency Belta reported.

He added that while there might be occasional shortages of cash at exchange points, authorities would not allow the Belarusian rouble to collapse and that there was “no catastrophe”.

Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky and Polina Ivanova; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Sujata Rao