No more issues between Russia, Belarus: Gazprom chief

(MOSCOW) - The Gazprom chief said Friday Russia and Belarus would soon sign a new transit deal removing all sticking points in their cooperation, after nearly a week of wrangling over energy prices.

Alexei Miller, head of the Russian gas giant, told reporters he had spoken to the management of Belarussian pipeline operator Beltransgaz Thursday night and the two companies had sorted out all the issues in dispute.

"We had very constructive talks," Miller told a news conference.

"I am convinced that this addendum will be signed in the nearest future," he said, referring to a supplement to the two companies' current contract.

"I do not see any alternative to that," said Miller, who was in a visibly good mood and frequently joked.

He declined to disclose the details of the future document, including the planned date of signing.

Earlier Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said there was a principle agreement between the two firms to sign an "addendum to the contract for 2010," signalling the Russian gas giant may pay a higher transit fee in line with Belarus's demands.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko Friday warned he would halt Russia's Europe-bound oil and gas transit within two days if Moscow did not pay a debt for transit.

On Thursday Gazprom paid Belarus 228 million dollars in gas transit fees, but Belarus insists the Russian gas firm owes it a total of 260 million dollars.

European Union member Lithuania briefly suffered gas supply disruptions this week when Gazprom reduced supplies to Belarus and Minsk halted transit of Russia's European-bound supplies in retaliation.


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