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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Diamond Talks Set

Russian diamond producer Almazy Rossii Sakha and South Africa's De Beers will meet for talks on a new diamond marketing deal in May, but the deal could still be far off, industry officials said Thursday.

Raymond Clark, De Beers' Moscow representative declined to comment on the latest round of discussions.

A senior official at Russia's State Committee for Precious Metals and Stones said the government had not yet worked out guidelines for the Russian side, insisting the actual talks would be possible only after that.

"The sides can have general discussions about the diamond market, but formally there can be no talks on the new deal itself before the Russian side receives concrete directives from the government," said the official.

He did not say when he expected the government to draw up the guidelines for the talks.

"We have always understood that Almazy has been nominated by the Russian government, and this fact [of the government preparing guidelines for Almazy] is not surprising. Similar talks take quite a long time," Clark said.

"The only thing I can tell is that both sides are keen to sign the new marketing deal as soon as possible," he said.

The South African company and the Russian government signed a memorandum of understanding Feb. 23 governing sales of Russian diamonds through De Beers' London-based Central Selling Organization, which controls about 75 percent of the world trade in rough gems.

The memorandum, under which De Beers becomes the exclusive buyer of all rough Russian diamond exports, still needs to be worked out into a formal contract.