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No gas supply deal at Kremlin conference

The emergency Kremlin meeting to resolve the issue of Russian natural gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine ended without any breakthrough, although Prez Dmitry Medvedev expressed hope of their early resumption.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2009 00:24 IST

The emergency Kremlin meeting to resolve the issue of Russian natural gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine ended on Saturday without any breakthrough, although President Dmitry Medvedev expressed hope of their early resumption.

"We are confident that (Ukrainian) Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko has the mandate to sign an agreement," Medvedev said at the press conference.

He said that Timoshenko's talks with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will continue later on Saturday night.

Medvedev offered Ukraine to open an irrevocable USD 1 billion Letter of Credit (LC) with any 'first class' European bank to finance the purchase of so called 'technological gas' to fill the transit pipeline before actual pumping of Russian gas for European customers could begin.

"We can help Ukraine in securing such LC," he said.

Major European gas buyers were absent at the meeting summoned by Medvedev to resolve the crisis.

"The special purpose that I see for today's meeting is to form an effective and permanent international mechanism that would prevent further situations like the current one and will provide for regular transit," Medvedev said in his televised opening remarks.

He called for a permanent mechanism to ensure the transit of Russian gas to Europe.

Leaders of major European powers including France, Germany and Italy, also major importers of Russian natural gas, declined to attend the Kremlin meet originally announced as the emergency summit of Russian gas consumers and transit nations.

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