Energy deal with Russia is essential: Villepin

14th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

MOSCOW, Feb 13, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Monday it was vital to launch talks between Paris and Moscow on security of energy supplies.

MOSCOW, Feb 13, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Monday it was vital to launch talks between Paris and Moscow on security of energy supplies.

"Between Russia, which is the world's top gas producer and the second largest oil producer, and France, which is at the forefront in this sector in Europe, it is essential to have dialogue in order to tackle the long-term challenges," Villepin told a reception for French expats at Paris' embassy in Moscow.

Western powers, which were startled when Moscow turned off natural gas supplies to Ukraine in January to push through a demand for sharply higher prices, are rounding on Russia to get a commitment to secure energy supplies.

The row with Ukraine disrupted gas supplies to several markets in the European Union, which relies on Russia for around a quarter of its natural gas imports.

The dispute was followed by mysterious explosions that damaged Russian pipelines and interrupted gas supplies to shivering Georgia for more than a week, as well as a surge in domestic demand in Russia that has produced nearly daily shortfalls in gas deliveries to Italy.

Under pressure to portray itself as a reliable energy provider, Moscow told its partners in the Group of Eight at the weekend that it wanted to narrow the cracks in the fractured world gas market.

"Russia said it wanted to create a world gas market like the existing world oil market," French Finance Minister Thierry Breton told a news conference after the meeting in Moscow of the G8 — Russia and the world's seven largest industrial powers.

France, which has practically no gas or oil resources on its own territory, is Moscow's ninth largest business partner and the sixth biggest investor in Russia.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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