Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka calls for more joint space projects with China

Alyaksandr Lukashenka has invited China to develop mutual cooperation under the countries' space programs.

Speaking at a meeting with Ma Xingrui, head of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Mr. Lukashenka said that the two countries had already achieved success in the sphere. "But this is just the beginning," the presidential press office quoted him as saying. "We have even greater prospects, we are ready to use China's experience, China's achievements in the sphere and we are ready to offer our services to China in the area of space."

Mr. Lukashenka reportedly said that the development of space technologies was key to Belarus' national security.

Mr. Ma, for his part, played up the level of joint space projects and expressed a high opinion of the performance of Belarusian-made equipment used aboard Chinese Earth-imaging satellites.

He expressed hope that the two countries would continue "fruitful cooperation" in the sphere. "Hopefully, cooperation on space projects will enter a higher level, so that projects develop for the benefit of our peoples and for the purpose of the peaceful exploration of space," he said.

Belarus and China are expected to sign a contract for the construction of a communications satellite this year.

The contract will be inked by Belarus' Precision Electrical Engineering Plant and China Great Wall Industry Corporation, which has been selected to build the satellite.

Belarus will receive a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China to pay for the satellite, which is to be built within three years after the signing of the contract.

The satellite is likely to be launched into orbit aboard a Chinese rocket.