Medvedev says gas crisis beyond bilateral solution

January 16th, 2009 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 16 (DPA) European leaders must attend a crisis summit in Moscow this weekend because bilateral talks will no longer suffice to defuse a Russian-Ukrainian conflict over gas transits, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday.”Unfortunately, this issue has gotten beyond bilateral relation,” the Interfax news agency quoted Medvedev as saying. “In order to stop this gas starvation (of Europe), we put forth the idea of holding a summit Saturday.”

“We hope the Ukrainian side will approach the question responsibly and our European partners will contribute to making the necessary decisions,” Medvedev said at a Kremlin reception for new foreign ambassadors to Moscow.

Medvedev proposed the summit of “gas consuming nations” Wednesday as the only chance to resolve the protracted embargo on Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that the international conference was the best way to break the deadlock between Moscow and Kiev.

“This is probably one of the most realistic chances of getting things moving from their current standstill,” Lavrov told journalists at a Moscow briefing.

“We expect everyone with a stake in resolving the problem to decide as soon as possible to come to the summit held in Moscow tomorrow,” he said.

“This is not a question of personal ambitions… We are trying to solve the problem,” Lavrov added.

While the European Union (EU) called the proposal for the summit “long overdue” Thursday, there seemed to hesitation on the part of European leaders to commit to the meeting. The EU has not yet said who would form its delegation to the summit.

Russia’s initiative, meanwhile, sparked a rushed gathering of senior officials from eastern Europe in Kiev Friday.

The heads of state of Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Moldova were participating in the energy talks, the Ukrainian government said.

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