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Putin Denies Disagreement with Medvedev Over Libya

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (l) and his Slovene counterpart Borut Pahor shake hands in Brdo Slovenia, March 22, 2011

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has dismissed allegations that he and President Dmitry Medvedev had a disagreement about the international campaign in Libya.

During a visit to Slovenia Tuesday, Mr. Putin told reporters that he and Mr. Medvedev have a very similar opinion on the events in Libya, but that the president determines Russia's foreign policy. Mr. Putin has described the United Nations resolution to implement a no-fly zone in Libya as a "medieval call to crusade," a remark the president later called "unacceptable."

Russia's prime minister is visiting Slovenia and Serbia this week to clear the final hurdles for the implementation of the South Stream pipeline project in the two Balkan countries.

He met with Slovenian President Danilo Turk and Prime Minister Borut Pahor Tuesday in Brdo pri Kranju, outside the capital, Ljubljana.

The two sides have set up a joint venture to design the Slovenian segment of the pipeline, which will run from Russia across the Black Sea to western destinations, and have signed a series of bilateral agreements..

Putin is due in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, Wednesday to discuss the pipeline and other joint energy projects. He is also scheduled to watch a friendly soccer (football) game between local team Red Star (Crvena Zvezda) and St. Petersburg's Zenit.

Serbia considers Russia to be its main economic partner as well as a political ally.

Belgrade signed a major energy agreement with Moscow in 2008, which includes the takeover of the Serbian gas company NIS, by Gazprom.

The South Stream pipeline, to be built by Russia's Gazprom and Italy's ENI, will bypass Ukraine, which has been at the center of several gas price and payment disputes between the two eastern European neighbors.

The disputes have caused interruptions of Russian natural gas supplies to many European countries during the cold winter months.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.