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MINSK Nov 30 Russia and Belarus are close to
solving a dispute over gas prices, Belarussian Energy Minister
Vladimir Potupchik told reporters on Wednesday.
The long-term allies have been at odds since the start of
the year over how much Minsk should be paying Russia's Gazprom
for gas supplies following a slump in global energy
Potupchik said Minsk had sent Moscow new proposals on how to
solve the row and that he expected officials from the two
countries to hold talks this week.
"We are close to a resolution," said Potupchik.
Minsk, which says a gas price set by Gazprom of $132 per
1,000 cubic meters is too high, has been paying less on delivery
since the start of the year and Gazprom says it is owed $270
million for the first six months of 2016.
Since the start of July, in a move interpreted as an attempt
by Russia to put pressure on Minsk, Russian oil pipeline
monopoly Transneft has been pumping about 40 percent less oil to
Belarus than in the second quarter of this year.
Belarus, which received 21 billion cubic metres of gas from
Gazprom in 2015, has previously said it sees $73 per 1,000 cubic
metres as a fair price for gas.
(Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky; Writing by Andrew Osborn;
Editing by Alexander Winning)