Berlin appeals to Belarus and Russia to end gas dispute

Berlin - Germany criticised on Wednesday a threat to cut gas supplies via Belarus to western Europe, saying it hopes Russia and Belarus will find a solution to their gas dispute.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was responding in a statement to an order by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to halt transit shipments to the European Union through the pipeline network.

Belarusian officials said Wednesday that they had not yet stopped delivery of Russian gas to western Europe.

"I am relying on both sides in this dispute quickly reaching an agreed solution," Westerwelle said. "I am assuming that everybody involved is aware of their responsibility, whether as a gas supplier or as a gas-transit nation."

Lukashenko gave his order after Russia curtailed gas supplies to Belarus, complaining about payment arrears.

The European Union's executive has said that 6.25 per cent of the bloc's total gas consumption is normally routed in via Belarusian pipelines.


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