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Belarus Considers New Baltic Oil Route

Belarusian Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynau (file photo)

Belarusian Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynau (file photo)

Belarus's foreign minister says Minsk is "seriously interested" in routing Venezuelan oil through Latvia in a bid to reduce its reliance on Russia for oil supplies.

Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynau, who is visiting the Latvian capital of Riga today to meet with his Latvian counterpart, said the idea was to create a "strategic transit" route by way of the Baltic states.

Lithuania is set to receive a trial tanker shipment of some 550,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude oil bound for Belarus later this week.

Lithuanian officials earlier said they were discussing the possibility of a long-term arrangement with Belarus.

Belarus and Russia have frequent disagreements over oil supplies.

The two foreign ministers also signed an agreement on simplifying the visa regime between them.

The new system allows people in border areas to be issued with free, multilateral border-crossing permits for the purpose of visiting relatives, burial places, and cultural events.

Visas were previously issued on an individual basis for a fee.

compiled from agency reports