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    RUSSIA NOT TO SUMMON AMBASSADOR FROM BELARUS

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    MOSCOW, February 19, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is not going to summon its ambassador to Belarus for discussions, the Russian foreign ministry told RIA Novosti.

    In comments on Belarus' decision to summon its ambassador to Russia for discussions in Minsk, the ministry said it was the Belarussian authorities' legitimate right to do that.

    Belarus is summoning its ambassador after Russia halted natural gas supplies to Belarus on Wednesday. The Trans nafta company /which was the only supplier of Russian gas to Belarus lately/ said it had fulfilled the contract for gas supplies to Belarus, while the republic had not signed a new contract.

    On January 1, Gazprom, Russia's natural gas giant, halted gas deliveries over price disputes. Then it stopped transiting gas to western countries via Belarus.

    The Russian concern said it had recommended the republic to sign new contracts for gas supplies. However, the Belarussian Beltransgaz concern began tapping Russian gas exported via Belarussian territory to the West instead.

    Gazprom could not, therefore, fulfil obligations to its western partners, responsibility for which lies completely with Belarus, emphasised the company.

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