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Belarusian PM may visit Moscow July 30 over gas debt

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MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky may visit Moscow July 30 to discuss paying for natural gas deliveries.

The parties are expected to consider granting a $1.5 billion loan for Belarus to pay for Russian gas deliveries as well as restructuring the Belarusian debt.

Russia increased the natural gas price for Belarus from $46.68 per 1,000 cubic meters to $100 from 2007. Minsk has so far paid $55 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Belarus owes Russia $450 million for natural gas. Minsk is to start paying for 100% of its natural gas imports from June, and was supposed to repay its debt for the first half of the year.

On February 22, the Belarusian government requested a loan from Russia due to rises in oil and natural gas prices imported from Russia.

Belarusian pipeline operator Beltransgaz and Russian energy giant Gazprom are currently in talks on restructuring or postponing the payment of Belarus' debt.

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