EU proposes October 21 for Ukraine-Russia gas talks
The European Union has proposed fresh talks on October 21 with Russia and Ukraine to settle their ongoing dispute over gas deliveries, an EU official said on Thursday.
"Vice-President Oettinger proposed to his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts Tuesday 21 October in Berlin as a date and place for the next trilateral meeting," a spokeswoman for European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.
"This date and place is of course subject to agreement by all three sides," the spokeswoman added.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said shortly afterwards in Kiev that he was fine with holding the meeting on Tuesday.
This is the first attempt to set a date for another round of EU-brokered gas talks after a meeting in Brussels was postponed at the last-minute last week.
That sit-down with ministers from Kiev and Moscow was due to have been hosted by the European Union's energy commissioner in the Belgian capital last Thursday or Friday and follow the last round of talks in Berlin on September 26.
Earlier Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced "cautious optimism" that the EU will broker an end to the Russian-Ukrainian gas standoff despite the "fragile" situation in the conflict-torn country.
Merkel said she hoped that Oettinger "will still manage to find a solution that gives security to us and Ukraine, in particular for the coming (winter) months".
Russia nearly doubled Ukraine's gas price a few weeks after the February ouster in Kiev of a Kremlin-backed president who had earlier rejected a historic EU association pact.
The Russian state gas giant Gazprom cut deliveries to its western neighbour in mid-June after Kiev refused to pay the higher rate, and all European mediation efforts since have failed.
Ukrainian pipelines carrying Russian gas account for about 15 percent of all gas imported by Europe -- which is reliant on Russia for about a third of its outside supplies.
© 2014 AFP