Belarus after expanded Iran energy ties

Belarusian president has called for expansion of energy ties with Iran in wake of recent quarrels with Moscow over cost gas supplies and transit fees.

President Alexander Lukashenko noted in a special cabinet session on Monday last week's row with Russia over gas supplies and referred to advancing energy collaborations with Iran as a preferred route in the emerging need for Belarus to look for new energy markets in order to meet its oil and gas demands.

Lukashenko reiterated that Belarus should not rely on a single source for its needs in the fields of energy, raw materials and logistics, IRNA reported.

Stressing on national security concerns, the Belarusian president also mentioned efforts that his country initiated several years ago in finding diversified sources of energy in Iran, Latin America and Africa to move towards fending off his nation's dependency on oil and gas imports from Russia.

Lukashenko said we will engage in oil exploration and production in Iran and Venezuela, and we will domestically refine the oil we purchase from Caracas.

Last week Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the state-owned gas producer Gazprom to cut gas deliveries to Belarus by up to 60 percent. A potential crisis was averted when Belarus agreed to pay the demanded debt of nearly 200 million dollars.

Disputes between Russia's neighbors over gas prices and transit terms have always been a threat to European countries, which rely on Russian gas.

Earlier in January 2009, Gazprom halted gas supplies to Europe for nearly two weeks over unsettled disputes with Ukraine over prices and transit terms.


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