URGENT: Continuation of gas debt talks with Belarus questionable - Gazprom CEO

The CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, is unsure of the possibility of continuing talks with Belarus on a gas debt issue before Monday.

Belarusian First Deputy Energy Minister Eduard Tovpinets on Friday evening announced that Gazprom owes some $200 million euros to Belarus for gas transit fees to Europe, the same amount that Gazprom says Belarus owes for gas deliveries.

Talks on the issue continued on Saturday in St. Petersburg, but ended "empty-handed," according to Miller.

"We split up, and where they [the Belarusians] went, I have no idea," Miller said while answering questions on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.

Belarus is a transit country for part of Russian gas exports to Europe. On Tuesday, President Dmitry Medvedev threatened tough measures against Minsk if it does not pay off its approximate $200 million gas debt in five days.

Gazprom also warned Belarus on Wednesday that it may cut gas supplies starting June 21.

Belarus refuses to pay the Russian gas price, which is set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first quarter of the year and $185 in the second quarter. Instead, it has been paying $150 since January 1. A Russian official earlier said Minsk had "plucked this price out of thin air."

ST. PETERSBURG, June 19 (RIA Novosti)


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