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    EU says making progress on gas loan to Ukraine

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    The European Commission said Monday that progress has been made on the issue of giving Ukraine an international loan to pay Russia for natural gas.

    BRUSSELS, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission said Monday that progress has been made on the issue of giving Ukraine an international loan to pay Russia for natural gas.

    The statement was issued after high-level talks involving representatives of gas companies Gazprom and Naftogaz, the World Bank, the IMF, the EBRD and the EU.

    "The participants made good progress in identifying the key issues of concern and elements for possible solutions including possible financing arrangements," the representatives said in a joint statement.

    The ex-Soviet state is seeking a syndicated loan of over $4 billion from European banks to pay it debts to Russian energy giant Gazprom until November 2009.

    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in early June it would be difficult for the EU to help Ukraine keep up with its payments.

    Russia, which supplies around one fifth of Europe's gas, briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of the year during a dispute with Kiev over unpaid debt.

    The conflict was resolved in January, when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko, agreed deals on deliveries to and gas transit through Ukraine for 2009.

    Ukraine transits around 80% of Russia's Europe-bound gas.

     

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