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Ukrainian-Russian Gas Dispute Continues

Russia's energy minister has denied reports of a compromise deal with Ukraine over the price of natural gas to be supplied to the Ukrainians next year.

Viktor Khristenko said Tuesday Russia plans to charge Ukraine world market prices for natural gas beginning New Year's Day. He spoke just hours after Ukraine's Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov reported a tentative compromise on the issue.

Purchases at world prices would be a four-fold increase in Ukraine's current payments. Mr. Plachkov is due in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the dispute.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko telephoned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss what Russian officials called bilateral issues. Russia's official Ria Novosti news agency says Mr. Yushchenko agreed to comply with existing accords on Russia's use of the Savastopol naval base on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine had threatened to raise the rent for the base, in an apparent response to the natural gas dispute.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.