Belarus pact

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The Independent Online
Moscow (AP) - Applauding and kissing each other in the Kremlin yesterday, the presidents of Russia and Belarus signed a union charter aimed at bringing their fellow Slav republics a step closer to their former Soviet glory.

The charter, initialled in the Grand Kremlin Palace by Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Lukashenko, follows a union treaty concluded by the two neighbouring nations last month.

Mr Lukashenko makes no secret of his nostalgia for the old Soviet Union, but April's treaty and yesterday's more detailed version fall short of creating a single state, and only call for closer economic, political and military co-operation.