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Barroso in Letter to Putin: EU Hopes for ‘Rapid’ Progress in Three-Party Gas Talks

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In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin released Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed hope that “rapid and decisive progress” will be achieved in the three-party gas talks of Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.

Updated 3:50 p.m. Moscow Time

MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) – In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin released Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed hope that “rapid and decisive progress” will be achieved in the three-party gas talks of Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.

“We also expect that rapid and decisive progress can be achieved in the trilateral gas talks towards a mutually acceptable interim solution for the upcoming winter period, on the basis of the compromise elements set out by the European Commission,” Barroso’s letter reads.

“It is key that the resumption of energy deliveries to the citizens of Ukraine is ensured and that the fulfilment of all contractual obligations with customers in the EU is secured,” Barroso said.

At the same time, Barroso welcomed the nations' "constructive engagement" on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and vowed further consultations to address concerns raised by Russia with regard to its economic safety.

On Tuesday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia was ready to implement the so-called "Winter Plan" for natural gas deliveries to Ukraine, just days after it was endorsed by the European Commission at the ministerial gas meeting in Berlin last Friday.

The plan, outlined by EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, would see Kiev repay $3.1 billion of its gas debt to Russia and pay in advance for the delivery of five billion cubic meters of gas at the price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters, with a discount of $100.

The deal, intended to reduce risks for transit of Europe-bound Russian gas via Ukraine, is to be in place until late March.

Kiev has rejected Russia's offer of the $100 gas-price discount in the form of an export-duty exemption and pushed for the contract price to be reduced instead.

Moscow and Kiev have a long history of disputes over natural gas deliveries. In June, Russia's gas giant Gazprom was forced to introduce a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine due to Kiev's massive debt which is currently estimated at $5.3 billion.

The next round of three-way gas talks is scheduled to take place in Berlin on October 2-3.

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