New round of Russia-Ukraine gas talks to continue on Thursday

MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Ukraine launched on Wednesday a new round of natural gas talks which will be continued on Thursday, a source close to the negotiations on the long-running dispute said.

The former Soviet allies partially resolved their gas dispute last Thursday, agreeing that Ukraine would pay off about $1 billion of its debt and that talks would continue on a supply scheme for 2008. The agreement came after Russian gas monopoly Gazprom restored gas supplies to Ukraine, which were cut by 50% early last week.

"The negotiations have not finished yet, and are likely to continue tomorrow," the source said.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Tuesday that strict instructions had been given to Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz to pay not more than $179.5 per 1,000 cu m of natural gas consumed in 2008.

Tymoshenko also said that under the instructions Ukraine would pay a maximum of $130 for every 1,000 cubic meters of gas consumed last year.

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