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Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agree to create Eurasian Economic Union to further boost ties

Leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have agreed to create the Eurasian Economic Union, an alliance intended to further boost economic and trade ties between the ex-Soviet neighbors.

Speaking during talks Thursday in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the pact is taking their cooperation to a "new level," while fully respecting their sovereignty.

Putin said the new union will help provide an "attractive center of economic development" and allow the three nations to fully exploit their economic potential and strengthen their positions in global markets.

The new alliance is the development of the Customs Union including the same nations. In addition to free trade, it coordinates the members' financial systems and regulates industrial and agricultural policies along with their labor markets and transport systems.