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Top Belarus official in Moscow for talks on gas dispute

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Top Belarus official in Moscow for talks on gas dispute

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There are new efforts to resolve a gas pricing dispute between Russia and Belarus. Belaru’s top negotiator, the deputy prime minister, has arrived in Moscow for a meeting with officials from the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. There are conflicting reports about whether the two sides are close to reaching a deal before deliveries to Western Europe are disrupted.

The dispute with Belarus, one of the transit routes for gas to European customers, revives memories of a similar row Russia had with Ukraine last year. Gazprom is trying to bring prices paid by former Soviet neighbours up to world market levels. Its directors want to increase Belarus’ rate by almost 50 percent from tomorrow, threatening that supplies could be cut if prices aren’t agreed to. Belarus says that would force it to disrupt transit shipments.