Russia and Belarus to continue talks on new oil deal

A delegation from Minsk has left Moscow empty handed with no new deal for supplying Russian crude oil to Belarus.

The sides have once again failed to reach an agreement, but are ready to keep talking, Aleksandr Timoshenko, press secretary to the Belarusian Prime Minister, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

The previous oil agreement expired on January 1, 2010.

The Russian side announced earlier that if Belarus failed to sign the new agreement, starting January 1 it would have to pay 100% of custom duties on the oil deliveries meant for Europe. Belarus, however, is insisting on a discount. Moscow has however offered Minsk 6 million tons of duty-free Russian oil for domestic use.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Sechin, warned that the situation must not affect oil transit to European consumers via Belarus. The Russian oil transporter Transneft assured that regardless of the outcome of the talks, supplies to Europe will not be disrupted.

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