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Russia, Belarus agree to continue consultations on resolving gas conflict

RIA Novosti

22:02 22/06/2010 MINSK, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky and Russia's Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller agreed to continue consultations on mutual debts settlement in a phone conversation, a spokesman for the Belarusian premier said on Tuesday.

"A phone conversation was held today between Sergei Sidorsky and Alexei Miller. The head of the Belarusian government made known to the Russian side the position of Belarus on resolving the gas dispute and stressed the necessity for Russia to pay off its gas transit debt," Alexander Timoshenko said.

Belarusian First Deputy Energy Minister Eduard Tovpinets on Friday evening announced that Gazprom owes some $200 million to Belarus for gas transit fees to Europe, the same amount that Gazprom says Belarus owes for gas deliveries.

Belarus refuses to pay the Russian gas price, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of the year and $185 for the second quarter, and has been paying $150 since January 1 instead.

Gazprom decreased its gas supplies to Belarus by 15% on Monday over the $200 million debt Minsk has accumulated since the start of the year. Supplies were further cut by 30% on Tuesday. The Russian gas giant may introduce further cuts on Wednesday morning.

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