After a one-on-one meeting, the talks continued with the involvement of the delegations. Later, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko made statements for the press.
The President of Belarus has come to Russia on a working visit.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, I am very glad to welcome you to St Petersburg. Yesterday we marked a common holiday, the Day of Unity of Peoples of Russia and Belarus.
However, I must begin our meeting on a different note. As you know, there has been an explosion on the St Petersburg metro. People have been killed and injured. I would like to begin our meeting by expressing condolences and sympathy to the families of those killed and injured.
I have spoken with representatives of our security agencies and the FSB Director. Our law enforcement and security agencies are working to establish the causes of the explosion and to provide their assessment of the situation. The city authorities, and if needed, the federal authorities, will take the necessary measures to help the families of those affected by the blast.
Regrettably, we are compelled to begin our meeting by speaking about this tragic event. The reasons behind it are not clear yet, and so it would be premature to speak about them. The investigation is ongoing. Of course, we always consider all scenarios, including accidental or criminal action, and above all, those of a terrorist nature. The ongoing investigation will soon provide answers regarding the causes of this tragedy.
As for our meeting, I would like to say that this year we will mark yet another important event, 25 years of diplomatic relations. Today we have an opportunity to speak about what has been done over this period to promote bilateral cooperation, what we need to do and the unresolved issues we need to address.
I am very glad to see you in Russia. I am grateful to you for accepting our invitation to come to St Petersburg to talk about these issues.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you, Mr Putin.
You know my attitude towards St Petersburg, a city that is not foreign to me and that is your home city. It is always with great pleasure that I come here.
It is deeply, deeply regrettable that this has taken place. In times like these, you always pray to God that things will not get worse. Unfortunately, we have confronted similar problems in Minsk. I hope things will not get worse.
I would like to express my condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, to the residents of St Petersburg, who react with such poignant sensitivity to such things, the way all Slavic people do.
I have just said to you that we will not be allowed to live in peace, and that we must be prepared for anything. There are very many challenges in the world. We do not live in an isolated world, as you and I know only too well, because we have held our offices for many years. This is why we need to speak very seriously, considering that security is a top item on our agenda today, the security of our Fatherland, if I may call it that, which I think is perfectly appropriate. We will talk about how to live in this world and how to protect the interests of our people.
As for problems in relations, they will always be there. However, in the face of events such as this, these problems pale in significance. We can deal with all our problems quickly and effectively. May God grant us peace, and allow us to continue to protect the security of our people.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.