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Putin, Lukashenko discussed Belarus crisis on phone - Belarus state media

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

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladmir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko spoke by telephone on Monday and discussed the situation in Belarus, the Belta news agency reported.

The Belarusian state-run agency also reported the two leaders had agreed that Belarusians would take part in Phase Three trials of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine.

Belarus would be the first foreign country to receive deliveries of the vaccine, Belta added.

Russia is a close ally of Belarus where Lukashenko is facing the biggest challenge of his 26-year rule, amid protests over a disputed Aug. 9 presidential election.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Sujata Rao