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MINSK, February 8. /TASS/. Belarusian government plans to continue talks on Russian gas supplies in the nearest future, Deputy Energy Minister Vadim Zakrevsky said Wednesday.
"The government plans," he said when asked whether the country’s delegation plans to hold gas talks in Moscow in the nearest future.
According to Zakrevsky, "deputy prime ministers are in talks" regarding the issue now.
Belarus and Russia have been negotiating a reduction in gas prices since early 2016. Minsk insisted on lowering the price of Russian natural gas from $132 to $73 per 1,000 cubic meters and demanded that Russia switch to equal netback pricing. In response to underpayment of around $300 mln for Russian gas supplies Moscow cut its tax-free oil supplies to Belarus by more than a third.
Earlier Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that Belarus' debt for Russian gas supplies had reached around $550 mln as of January 28. In end-2016, Belarus transferred an advance payment for Russian gas and expressed the hope that the volume of oil supplies would be restored. However, Dvorkovich said that Russia had returned the advance payment and insisted on full execution of the gas contract. At the same time, he did not rule out that the settlement of the gas dispute with Belarus could be resolved in court.
Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said earlier the country hoped to reach a compromise with Russia regarding the oil and gas issue not later than in the first quarter of this year.