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Belarus: Deal Reached With Russia Ending Oil Cut-Off


Belarus says it has reached a deal with Russia to end the dispute that has disrupted the flow of Russian crude oil to Belarus and western Europe.

Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said a deal was reached Wednesday, after his government revoked a new oil transit tax imposed last week on Russian crude passing through the Druzbha pipeline.

Russia stopped pumping the oil Monday, after Belarus began siphoning 79,000 tons of oil meant for Europe. Belrus called the siphoning a form of tax collection.

It is not clear when actual oil pumping will resume. The Reuters news agency quotes Russia's envoy to the European Union late Wednesday as saying oil could flow within hours. Russia's pipeline chief said he expects pumping to resume Thursday.

However, Interfax news agency quotes Russian trade official Andrei Sharonov as saying the lifting of the Belarus tax simply clears the way for talks to resume.

Mr. Sidorsky is to fly to Moscow Thursday for talks with Russian officials.

Russian news agencies say Moscow will begin pumping as soon as Belarus finishes forwarding the siphoned oil to European terminals.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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