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Azerbaijan refutes Nabucco claims

Sept. 9, 2008 at 4:53 PM

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The government of Azerbaijan Tuesday refuted claims it was apprehensive about signing on to the planned Nabucco pipeline out of fear of angering Russia.

The Russian daily newspaper Kommersant had reported that Azeri President Ilham Aliyev told U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that Baku was reluctant to sign on to any transportation route that bypassed Russia, prompting the visiting vice president to skip a dinner in his honor.

"Azerbaijan has not refused the Nabucco project. This is a real project and has future," Azeri Energy Minister Natig Aliyev said.

The minister noted the development of the Nabucco pipeline to diversify European energy resources has been hampered by political and supply concerns.

A review of the project concluded last month shows suppliers have overbooked the pipeline, though Azeri natural gas is expected to be one of the primary sources.

"Azerbaijan cannot supply this project only by its own resources," the energy minister said.

He noted discussions on the project were ongoing, the Azeri Press Agency said. Azerbaijan is seen as a key energy supplier for Europe through several pipeline arteries, though pressure from Moscow in light of the recent conflict in Georgia may influence those routes.

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