Minsk, Moscow to talk over energy row on Monday

08:30, June 21, 2010      

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A Belarusian delegation that left for Moscow Sunday will hold talks over gas debt issue on Monday with the Russian side, said a representative from Belarusian Energy Ministry.

The talks "will focus on the cost of gas transit across Belarus and, correspondingly, Gazprom's debt for transit" to Europe, said the representative, adding that discussions held between Gazprom and Belarusian Beltransgaz on Saturday failed to dissolve differences over debt setoffs.

On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened tough measures against Minsk if it does not pay off its arrears worth 200 million U.S. dollars in five days.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller Thursday warned to cut gas supplies to Belarus by 85 percent from Monday over the lingering debts amounting to 200 million U.S. dollars.

However, Belarus Deputy Energy Minister Edward Tovpinets claimed the gas debt is equal to the transit debt owed by Gazprom, which means the gas debt could be offset.

Meanwhile, a senior official from the Belarusian Energy Ministry told the RIA Novosti news agency Sunday that Russia may be entitled to cut gas supplies only by 15 percent based on current contract terms, which equal to 200 million dollars.

Belarus is a transit country for part of Russian gas exports to Europe.

Source: Xinhua


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