Energy debate heats up as Merkel meets Putin

26th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 April 2006, TOMSK - Energy cooperation topped the agenda at talks Wednesday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Siberian city of Tomsk. Before the meeting, Putin noted that Russia was forced to expand energy exports into Asia because of restrictions he said it faced in the West. "Regardless of high demand for energy people are trying to hem us in to the north, west and south," Putin told Russian officials. "We often run into unfair methods of competition o

26 April 2006

TOMSK - Energy cooperation topped the agenda at talks Wednesday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

Before the meeting, Putin noted that Russia was forced to expand energy exports into Asia because of restrictions he said it faced in the West.

"Regardless of high demand for energy people are trying to hem us in to the north, west and south," Putin told Russian officials. "We often run into unfair methods of competition on world markets."

Rapid economic growth in Asian countries meant Russia could find new customers in the region, he added amid discussions of a 11.5-billion-dollar oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific coast, with a spur line to the Chinese city of Datsin.

After earlier comments by a top energy official in Moscow that Russia had "overfed" Europe, Merkel was expected to try and firm up her country's cooperation with Russia.

As well as a being a major importer of Russian oil, Germany is the largest EU importer of Russian natural gas.

The two countries are currently building the North European Gas Pipeline linking Siberian gas fields with Germany, with a possibility of extension to Scandinavia, Holland and Britain

The sides now wanted to find "new partners and resources" in the project, Putin's foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said.

There was concern in the EU last week when the Semyon Vainshtok, head of the oil pipeline monopolist Transneft, warned that exports to Europe will inevitably decrease as Russia opens up routes to Asian countries and the United States.

But other officials gave assurances that Russia would remain a reliable partner.

Merkel, who was was attending the 8th German-Russian intergovernmental talks, was also due to consult with Putin on Iran's nuclear programme.

Germany is part of six-side talks between Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain on how to handle the crisis. While all six agree on the need to prevent Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons, Russia and China oppose the use of sanctions.

The chancellor, who finds herself in the shadow of Putin's close friendship with her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, earlier described her relations with the Kremlin leader as "open and sincere."

Candour in their dialogue enabled her to raise alternative viewpoints about issues, she told Russia's Izvestiya newspaper.

At their first official meeting in Moscow in January, the chancellor broached sensitive issues like Chechnya and new legislation restricting NGOs.

While she was still in the opposition, Merkel had criticized Schroeder for placing his personal ties with Putin above the need to maintain pressure on Russia to over democratic backtracking.

DPA

Subject: German news

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