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Russia, China to discuss gas pricing dispute

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao will tackle pricing disputes in gas cooperation when they meet in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

“A large package of intergovernmental, interministerial and commercial agreements is being prepared for signing,” the Russian government said in a statement, adding the leaders would also discuss joint work in trade, science and ecology.

Putin and Wen, who also briefly met on Monday, are meeting on the heels of President Dmitry Medvedev’s three-day visit to China in September during which he and President Hu Jintao launched a cross-border pipeline linking the world’s biggest energy producer with the largest energy consumer.

According to the Kremlin, the oil Russia will send to its neighbour from next year over the next 20 years could be worth 150 billion dollars.

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom signed a framework agreement with the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) last year on shipments of natural gas to China.

The deal could see 70 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas sent to China each year but talks have been bogged down over pricing.

Chinese officials said the differences between the two sides was now 100 dollars for 1,000 cubic metres, expressing hope last week that they could be resolved during Wen’s visit to Russia.

Wen and Putin will also attend a 13-state summit that aims to save the tiger and double the big cat’s population by 2022.

Energy supplies account for the bulk of Sino-Russian trade but Moscow also wants to secure Beijing’s help in modernising the Russian economy and is seeking broader Chinese investments and know-how in various sectors.

Vedomosti business daily reported on Tuesday that after Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s recent visit to China, Beijing submitted requests to buy a range of Russian arms including state-of-the-art S-400 missile defense systems and Il-476 heavy transport planes.

Vyacheslav Davidenko, spokesman for Rosoboronexport arms exporter, declined to either confirm or deny the report.