Gazprom looking east

July 2, 2008 at 4:10 PM

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, July 2 (UPI) -- A meeting between top Gazprom officials and the leaders of Turkmenistan points to the strong Russian interest in shifting its energy holdings eastward.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov hosted Gazprom chief Alexei Miller in the capital Ashgabat this week to discuss energy issues ahead of a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Gazprom and Turkmenistan are reliable and time-tested partners," Miller said.

The Medvedev visit could be a sign the Kremlin is looking to secure further gas deals with Turkmenistan to compensate for a shortage in new domestic capacities exploited by Russian energy giant Gazprom, The Moscow Times said Wednesday.

Any such deals would contain U.S. and European interests in relieving the region of Russian energy dependence. The European Union signed rival deals with Turkmenistan on the proposed Nabucco natural gas pipeline, a project backed by the United States.

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