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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due in Minsk on Monday to discuss prices for Russian gas supplies and a new loan to Belarus, a Russian government source said.

    MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due in Minsk on Monday to discuss prices for Russian gas supplies and a new loan to Belarus, a Russian government source said.

    During his visit to the former Soviet republic, Putin will meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Sergei Sidorsky, and the country's president, Alexander Lukashenko.

    Among the Russian delegation members will be First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, and Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko.

    Gas has been a point of concern in bilateral relations since Russia moved to market prices for its energy supplies. The gas price for Belarus is the lowest among ex-Soviet states.

    Russia's natural gas price for Belarus is due to rise to over $200 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2009, up 67% from $119 in the first quarter of 2008.

    According to a contract signed in December 2006 with Belarus, the price for Russian gas is scheduled to increase to 80 % of the European price in 2009 and to 90% in 2010.

    "Minsk is proposing a revision of these conditions," the source said.

    The Russian delegation also plans to discuss granting Belarus an additional loan, the source said, adding that Belarus was seeking a $2 billion loan from Moscow to support the country's trade and payment balance.

    In late 2007, Russia and Belarus signed an intergovernmental agreement to grant Minsk a $1.5 billion stabilization loan for 15 years. Belarus requested the loan from Russia to pay for energy supplies.

    Trade between Russia and Belarus in the first seven months of 2008 increased 60% year-on-year, reaching $21.5 billion.

    Putin will also attend a regular session of the Russia-Belarus Union State Council of Ministers.

    The agenda for the meeting will include the discussion of a broad range of issues, including bilateral trade and economic cooperation, scientific and technical cooperation, as well as joint projects on space, environment protection and investment.

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