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    RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON SUSPENDED GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS

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    MINSK, February 2, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/ - The problem with supplies of Russian gas to Belarus is not a contradiction between Russia and Belarus, but a disagreement between two economic agents, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, when answering questions of journalists in Minsk after the joint collegium of the Russian and Belarussian foreign ministries.

    "We hope that the parties will find a compromise and will reach relevant agreements," Ivanov said.

    When speaking of the integration processes and creation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the minister emphasized that "there is the corresponding decision and the will of people. This process will continue".

    However, this does not mean that there will be no problems on the way towards integration, such as gas supplies, he said.

    "The higher integration between our states, the more mechanisms there will be to settle the problems without affecting the integration processes," Ivanov pointed out.

    Belarussian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov in his turn underlined that the problem with Russian gas supplied to Belarus is "not so much a contradiction, but a task that should be fulfilled using integration leverages, without which the problem cannot be solved at all".

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