Gazprom delegates schedule Minsk talks

MINSK, Belarus, June 28 (UPI) -- A delegation of officials from Russian energy company Gazprom arrived Monday in Minsk to hammer out an agreement for natural gas, government officials said.

Vladimir Semashko, the first deputy foreign minister of Belarus, said both sides agreed to formal talks last week during a phone conversation with Gazprom chief Alexei Miller, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

"We agreed that a Gazprom working group will arrive here, (at Belarusian pipeline company) Beltransgas early on Monday, they will work for two days, and on Wednesday afternoon Miller's deputy (Valery) Golubev will arrive," he said.

Gazprom had cut gas supplies by as much as 60 percent last week as both sides squabbled over debt issues.

Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Gazprom, said the company paid its gas transit fees to Minsk after it received a similar payment for gas debts from the government in Belarus.

Both sides, however, have yet to settle differences over the fee of Russian gas transits through Belarus. Gazprom sends about 20 percent of its gas for Europe through Belarus.

Semashko said both sides were planning to sign off on a "relevant document" at the end of formal gas talks this week.


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