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Ukraine Expects Gas Agreement 'in Days'

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said he expects the 2009 gas contract between Russia and Ukraine to be revised "within a few days" after meeting with counterpart Vladimir Putin.

"The talks are nearing the end," Azarov said in a statement Wednesday on the government's web site. "In a few days, we will be able to approve a compromise." Putin and Azarov met in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Ukraine is seeking to revise the terms of gas-supply and transit contracts with Russia to help unlock the next tranche of a loan from the International Monetary Fund. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych seeks to cut the price to $230 per 1,000 cubic meters from next year's expected average level of $415.

Azarov and Putin discussed the possibility that Ukraine make payments for imported gas in Russian rubles, according to the Ukrainian government's statement. NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, Ukraine's state-run energy company, paid more than $867 million to Russia for September gas deliveries.

Meanwhile, Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo, Poland's biggest gas distributor, has given itself until the end of the month to reach a deal with Gazprom on lowering prices of gas imported from Russia, deputy chief executive Radoslaw Dudzinski said in Warsaw on Wednesday.

The state-controlled Polish company will seek international arbitration if the talks on gas prices fail, Dudzinski said.

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