Merkel, Putin discuss energy

14:29, 16 September 2008
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After U.S. criticizes pipeline

German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss energy issues after the U.S. criticized a natural-gas pipeline being built by the two countries, according to Bloomberg.

The German leader called earlier today to discuss joint projects and commerce, a Russian government press officer said on customary condition of anonymity, without elaborating.

Merkel`s spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm last week reiterated Germany`s support for the planned Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany after a U.S. diplomat called for the OAO Gazprom-led project to be reconsidered.

Michael Wood, the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, wrote a commentary in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet last week saying Europe should consider alternative energy routes that reduce its dependence on Gazprom, following the Russian invasion of Georgia last month.

The German Foreign Ministry protested to the U.S. embassy in Berlin that it was ``irritated`` by the comments, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Sept. 11. Germany is Russia`s biggest trading partner and former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder chairs Nord Stream.

The 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) pipeline under the Baltic Sea would bypass Ukraine and Poland, which are current transit countries for Russian gas. State-run Gazprom owns 51 percent of Nord Stream, with Wintershall Holding AG and E.ON Ruhrgas AG each holding 20 percent and Nederlandse Gasunie NV 9 percent.


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