KIEV, Ukraine, July 21 (UPI) -- Cooperation between Ukraine and Libya in the energy sector is part of the strategic direction of bilateral relations, the Ukrainian prime minister said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko welcomed a delegation from Libya to discuss bilateral economic ties in the energy and agricultural sectors.
Tymoshenko said Kiev was interested in using Ukrainian and Libyan funds to construct a new oil refinery in her country, the National Radio Co. of Ukraine reports.
Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi, the secretary-general of the General People's Committee of Libya, said his country would examine Ukrainian cooperation in oil exploration, production and other ventures in Libya.
The move comes as Ukrainian ties to Russia sour over looming economic pitfalls related to gas debts and contracts. A January spat between Moscow and Kiev prompted Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut gas supplies to Ukraine, leaving gas pipelines to Europe empty.
Kiev has faced obstacles meeting its monthly debt obligations to Moscow since January, and in June the European Union and Moscow invited international financial regimes in to back up the Ukrainian economy.
Officials with the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank, meanwhile, met with a Ukrainian delegation on the terms for the financial support, linking it to reforms at the state-owned energy company Naftogaz.