21 June 2004 -- Russia's finance minister says the government is willing to negotiate a settlement with the oil firm Yukos, which is accused of having back taxes of some $3.4 billion.
Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin today said "there is cooperation on the possible settlement of the claim."
Yukos Chief Financial Officer Bruce Misamore welcomed the remarks, but denied negotiations have taken place.
A Moscow court is today hearing arguments on the tax case from lawyers of both sides.
Yukos has warned that enforcing the tax claim could drive the company into bankruptcy -- something President Vladimir Putin says the government does not want to see.