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22 Dec, 2008 17:50

Lukashenko and Medvedev seal gas deal in Moscow

Russia and Belarus have agreed on the terms of gas delivery for the next year.

“An agreement on the basic principles of natural gas supply to Belarus and payment for it for next year was reached at the negotiations,” the Kremlin press secretary Natalya Timakova told journalists.

No figures have been announced yet but Belarus seems to be satisfied with the result.

“This price has been agreed upon on conditions quite acceptable to Belarus,” a member of the Belarusian delegation told Interfax.

Meanwhile, Russian deputy finance minister Dmitry Pankin was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying that Minsk has asked Moscow to borrow some 100 billion roubles, which is around $US 3.6 billion.

Political expert Dmitry Babich says it is unlikely that Belarus will get the whole sum, adding “Russia cannot continue to lend money to Belarus in exchange for what looks like promises.”

Some experts argue that the loan will be granted to the country in exchange for its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In the course of the autumn session the Belarusian parliament have not made any decision on the issue.

Russia had earlier agreed to lend Minsk $US 2 billion, of which Minsk has already received the first $US 1 billion. In addition Moscow granted Minsk a loan of $US 1.5 billion last year, which is to be repaid over 15 years.

Lukashenko has also asked the United States for $US 5 billion in financial aid.