Belarus heads for last-minute talks over Russian gas

20th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Belarussian delegation is heading back to Moscow Sunday for last-minute talks over a dispute with Russian energy giant Gazprom that could threaten supplies to Europe, according to media reports.

"Our delegation is returning to Moscow today (Sunday)", the Belarus deputy energy minister Edward Tovpinets told local TV.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that negotiations would begin Monday at 7:00 am (0300 GMT).

Gazprom threatened to cut deliveries by 85 percent at 10:00 am (0600 GMT) unless Minsk settles debts it puts at 192 million dollars (155 million euros).

Sources at the Ministry of Energy in Minsk warned the cut in deliveries could threaten the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Belarus.

"It will be difficult not to affect the transit," a high-placed source at the ministry was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

"The way gas pipelines work, it is necessary to maintain a certain level of pressure in them."

Gazprom said it was possible to bypass Belarus and guarantee supplies to Europe.

© 2010 AFP

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