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    RUSSIA TO SETTLE MUTUAL GAS CLAIMS WITH BELORUSSIA

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    KIEV, JANUARY 23, RIA NOVOSTI - Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov believes that Russia and Belorussia are to settle their mutual gas problems in the near future.

    Asked by reporters to comment on a bilateral gas scandal, Yusufov said he would not call Russian-Belorussian relationships in the gas field scandalous. He referred to them as routine cooperation when the sides are seeking to adjust their positions to answer mutual interests and expressed confidence that mutual claims would be met very soon.

    "The key task we have set ourselves and are seeking to persuade our Belorussian colleagues to assume is to establish as early as possible a joint venture between Gazprom and Beltransgas companies so as to provide safe gas deliveries to Belorussian consumers and to help Belorussia guarantee gas supplies not only to energy consumers but the entire Belorussian industry," said the minister.

    "It also goes without saying that we are seeking uninterrupted Russian gas deliveries across Belorussia to Western Europe. Some 20 billion cubic metres of Russian gas reach Eastern and Western Europe across Belorussia every year. We are satisfied with this process. Technical talks are under way and the sooner a document on establishing a joint venture between Gazprom and Beltransgas is signed, the more reliable deliveries will be and we can even consider the possibility of enhancing gas sales to Belorussian consumers," said Yusufov.

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