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U.S. backs EU energy plans

April 8, 2009 at 2:55 PM

BRUSSELS, April 8 (UPI) -- Washington supports moves by the European Union to ease its dependency on Russian natural resources through energy infrastructure, officials said.

Matthew Bryza, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told EUobserver that Brussels' latest moves in the regional energy sector are "a positive sign that things are moving finally in the right direction."

The European Union in 2008 agreed on an Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan that considers ways to address natural gas concerns, a prospect that received renewed attention in the wake of gas-supply disruptions from a January row between Russia and Ukraine.

"Europe isn't quite yet at a common external energy policy, but Russia's actions this winter helped to accelerate Europe moving in that direction," Bryza said.

The deputy official said Europe's plans to expand its pipeline network through arteries that go around Russian and Ukrainian territory, notably the Nabucco gas pipeline, were signs Brussels was serious about its diversification plans.

Nabucco would bring gas to Europe from Caspian and Middle Eastern suppliers. Critics note the $10.7 billion project is plagued by finance and gas-supply concerns, a denigration Bryza discounted.

"It's not worrying at all," he said.

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