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    Russia to charge Belarus customs duty for oil deliveries

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    MOSCOW, December 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will impose a full customs duty on oil deliveries to Belarus starting January 1 after the failure of bilateral talks on Thursday, the Russian government's press service said.

    Russia earlier cited "a lack of directives and authority" on behalf of the Belarusian delegation which led to the failure of the talks to reach an agreement for customs-free oil deliveries to Belarus for domestic use in 2010.

    It would release Belarus from paying customs taxes on the 5-6 million tons of oil it uses domestically for the year.

    "The negotiations were carried out on a daily basis from December 10. Unfortunately, we have failed to sign the relevant agreements," the press service said in a statement.

    Earlier this week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said the agreement could be signed in Moscow on December 30-31. He said that if the agreement was not signed by then, Belarus would be obliged to pay 100% of the customs duties for oil deliveries.

    The press service said on Thursday that the Russian government was ready to resume customs-free deliveries as soon as the relevant documents had been signed.

    Belarusian officials have been invited to continue the stalled negotiations in January in Moscow.

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