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Belarus Resumes Russian Oil Transit to Europe
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Russian oil exports to Europe via Belarus have started flowing again after a three-day hiatus amid a trade dispute between Minsk and Moscow, the Itar-Tass news agency reported early Thursday citing a Belarussian official.

Belarus resumed transit of Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline at 10:35 PM local time (20:35 GMT) Wednesday, the head of the pipeline operator Gomeltransneft Druzhba, Alexei Kostyuchenko, was quoted as saying.

Russia provides about a quarter of the oil and gas consumed in the European Union (EU), some of which is piped through Belarus. The oil disruption, which began Monday morning, has affected Poland, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The resumption of Russian oil flows came hours after Belarus decided to cancel a customs duty it imposed on Russian oil exports, which was imposed after Russia slapped export duties on crude oil supplied to Belarus at the beginning of the year.

The move to annul the transit duty followed an announcement by Belarus that a compromise to the row was found during a telephone conversation between Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Lukashenko and Putin "came to a compromise, which would help settle all the problems including those connected with Russian oil transit to European states via Belarus," after talking on the telephone, state news agency BelTA reported, citing the presidential press service.

The Kremlin issued a terse statement on the two leaders' telephone talks but did not mention a compromise.

The two presidents discussed "economic cooperation between Russia and Belarus, including in the energy sphere, such as problems related to the transit of Russian crude oil via Belarus," the statement said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2007)

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