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Russia: Prime Minister Tells China Oil-Pipeline Deal Postponed

Beijing, 24 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov (pictured) today said a $2.5 billion oil-pipeline deal with Beijing has been postponed. Kasyanov said after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao that three or four more months were needed to improve "the basic technical plan and meet the environmental needs" for the construction of a 2,400-kilometer pipeline from Siberia to northeastern China.

"Both proposals that have been presented to us plan for the pipeline to run near Lake Baikal which is, as you know, a world treasure and a UNESCO-protected site. It is protected not only by Russian law but also by international law," Kasyanov said. The project has been discussed for some 10 years, with many expecting a Russian decision during Kasyanov's visit.

Kasyanov also said Russia would increase oil exports to China by up to 5.5 million tons through rail transport.

Kasyanov and Jiabao oversaw the signing of six agreements, including a protocol on improving trade of "sensitive products," which the two sides refused to identify, and a banking agreement.