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    LUKASHENKO WILL, PROBABLY, RECEIVE BELARUS AMBASSADOR IN RUSSIA FOR CONSULTATIONS REGARDING RUSSIAN GAS SUPPLIES

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    MOSCOW, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- On Tuesday Aleksander Lukashenko will probably receive Vladimir Grigoriev, Belarus ambassador in Russia for consultations.

    On Monday the Belarus diplomatic mission in Moscow reported to RIA Novosti that "the consultations would be focused on the problem of Russian gas supply to Belarus." The Agency's interlocutor pointed out that "on Tuesday night the ambassador was expected to leave for Moscow." On the night of February 18th Gazprom stopped delivering gas to Belarus and its transit across the territory of the republic due to unauthorized withdrawal of gas by Beltransgas. In this connection the Belarus President stated that "from now on relations between Belarus and Russia would for a long period of time be poisoned by gas" and summoned the Belarus ambassador in Russia to Minsk for consultations.

    Deliveries of Russian gas to Belarus were resumed on February 19th. Gazprom also expressed its readiness to return to discussion of gas deliveries to Belarus at domestic Russian prices and of creation of a joint venture.

    On Tuesday Gazprom and Beltransgas will continue negotiations on supply of Russian gas to Belarus and on execution of appropriate contracts between the gas concerns.

    At a meeting on February 19th Aleksei Miller, chairman of the Board of Gazprom and Pyotr Petukh, general director of OAO Beltransgas exchanged opinions on the situation around gas supplies to Belarus and its transit across the territory of the republic.

    Sergei Kupriyanov, press secretary of Gazprom reported to RIA Novosti that some progress was achieved at the negotiations. He stated that "certain results were achieved: the parties agreed what to do next in order to execute the agreements, though certain issues still remain unsettled."

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