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Lukashenko says crisis in Belarus-Russia relations is over

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The crisis in Belarus-Russia relations is over, the Belarusian president said Sunday. An energy dispute between the two ex-Soviet republics at the start of 2007 affected Russia's European consumers.
MINSK, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - The crisis in Belarus-Russia relations is over, the Belarusian president said Sunday.

An energy dispute between the two ex-Soviet republics at the start of 2007 affected Russia's European consumers. Moscow briefly cut off crude oil supplies as Belarus started siphoning off oil as payment in kind for its transit services. Russia refused to pay the punitive transit fee Minsk imposed in response for the Russian export duty.

Russia agreed to cut the export duty from $180.7 to $53 per metric ton, effective from January 1, 2007. The two countries initialed an agreement to this end Friday, while also pledging to remove other trade barriers.

"I hope this crisis period in relations has passed. It was a short, intensive and very dangerous period," Alexander Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian president said he didn't see any problems with gas and oil deliveries to Europe.

The standoff, which drew parallels with an energy row with Ukraine involving natural gas this time last year, triggered further accusations in Europe that Russia is using hydrocarbons as a political tool, and discussions on the need to diversify energy sources.

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