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Russia and Belarus Set Talks on Russian Oil Tariff

Russian news reports quote Belarusian officials as expressing optimism for agreement with Russia this month on Moscow's export tariffs on oil shipped to its Western neighbor.

The reports quote Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky as saying experts were to begin work Tuesday on a formula governing the Russian export duties first announced last month.

Russia says the new tariffs are a response to the Belarus practice of purchasing as much Russian oil as possible at cut-rate prices, refining it, and then selling it to other European states at market prices.

The planned talks follow a last-minute deal late Sunday between the Belarusian government and Russia's state-run natural gas monopoly Gazprom that ended the Russian threat of a gas cut-off to Belarus.

Under the five-year deal, Belarus will pay $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas - a fee more than double the $47 dollar paid Russia in 2006.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.