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Gazprom to continue gas debt talks with Ukraine next week - co.-1

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Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will continue talks on the settlement of Ukraine's natural gas debt and further supplies next week, the Russian energy giant said on Friday.
(Recasts lead, adds details, background in paras 3-8)

MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will continue talks on the settlement of Ukraine's natural gas debt and further supplies next week, the Russian energy giant said on Friday.

"A working meeting between Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boiko is scheduled for Monday, October 8, at the company's head office, where they will discuss repayment of the debt and cooperation in the gas sector," Gazprom said in a news release.

Miller and Boiko met on Wednesday for talks on Ukraine's $1.3 billion debt for Russian gas supplied this year, after the gas monopoly warned it would have to cut exports if the country failed to repay the sum in October. Gazprom also notified European consumers about the situation.

During a bitter price row between the former Soviet allies in late 2005-early 2006, Moscow briefly cut off exports to Ukraine, which affected consumers in Western Europe, with Russia accusing Kiev of tapping Russian gas in transit via its territory.

Later on Thursday, the Russian monopoly and Ukrainian officials explained the debt in question was owed by Ukrainian consumers, not the state.

Gazprom said following Wednesday's meeting "an agreement was reached that Ukraine's current government will take the problem under its control and ensure payment of the debt before November 1."

Boiko confirmed the deadline on Friday in a telephone conversation with a European Commission member responsible for energy issues, Andris Piebalgs, adding that gas supplies to Europe would not be affected.

Moscow plans to further raise gas prices for Ukraine in 2008 from the current $130 to $143-$180 per 1,000 cubic meters.

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