Belarus boycotts meeting with Russia, Kazakhstan over gas dispute

MOSCOW, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Belarus Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky has decided to boycott a customs union meeting with his Russian and Kazakh counterparts slated for Friday in St. Petersburg, reports said.

The boycott was possibly caused by an ongoing dispute over gas prices with Moscow.

Belarus insisted that Russia should sell gas to Belarus at domestic prices, but Moscow demands Minsk pay international market prices.

The dispute has also become the main obstacle barring the customs union between the three countries from beginning official operation. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced the delay of its operation from the originally scheduled July 1.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said Thursday that Moscow believed Belarus would fulfill contract obligations on prices of Russian gas.

Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he would allow Russia to acquire control of Belarus' major Beltransgaz gas company and the country's largest Mozyr refinery in exchange for cheaper energy prices.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA Novosti news agency that Putin and Sidorsky were to discuss Lukashenko's offer.


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