[RIA Novosti, Reuters; 21 January] Representatives from the Belarus government and Russia's Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corp agreed to complete the drafting and to sign an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy during the first quarter of 2009. "The signing of this agreement opens the possibility for the parties to switch to direct negotiations on a contract for the construction of the first Belarusian nuclear power plant on a turnkey basis," Rosatom said in a statement. Belarus is planning to construct a two-unit nuclear power plant with a capacity of 2000 MWe, with the first reactor coming online in 2016 and the second in 2018. The country earlier launched a tender and invited bids from Rosatom, Areva and Westinghouse-Toshiba. Rosatom's nuclear power plant construction subsidiary AtomStroyExport (ASE) was reportedly the only bidder prepared to proceed and provide financing. Reuters cited Belarusian deputy prime minister as saying, "The country's leaders are ready to carry out the project to build a nuclear power station with AtomStroyExport as the general contractor."