Medvedev meets Lukashenko in Sochi

SOCHI, August 22 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Monday, August 22.

The presidents discussed various matters of bilateral relations, interaction within the Customs Union, and exchanged views on key international issues.

Lukashenko is in Sochi on a vacation after an official visit to Qatar, the press service of the Belarusian president said.

Russia is Belarus’ main oil and gas supplier. Under the Russian-Belarusian intergovernmental agreement signed in December 2010, Russia has cancelled the oil export duty for Belarus from January 1, 2011. The document entered into force shortly after Belarus had ratified a set of agreements on the Common Economic Space. However, as the issue of oil prices remains unresolved, Russian oil companies suspended oil exports to Belarus at the start of the year until new contracts were signed. Russia will supply 21.7 million tonnes of oil to Belarus this year.

In late 2006, the two countries signed a contract on Russian gas export and transit for 2007-2011 that envisions a gradual transition from preferential gas prices to the world ones in 2011. A decreasing coefficient was applied to gas supplies for four years. In 2009, amidst the global financial crisis, Gazprom cut it from 0.8 to 0.7, but raised it back to 0.9 in 2010.

However, Minsk insists on cutting the Russian gas export price in 2011. Gazprom Deputy CEO Valery Golubev said the average gas export price would reach around 250 U.S. dollars this year. Belarus plans to buy 22.5 billion cubic metres of Russian gas in 2011.

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