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Russia influencing regional energy routes

BRUSSELS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The conflict in Georgia has prompted European officials to act swiftly to secure alternatives to Russian natural resources and transportation routes.

Eastern European ministers last week called on the European Union to support the Nabucco natural gas pipeline that will become an alternative route for energy supplies to Europe. The move follows a similar action when EU member state Greece reached agreements on the project.

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Meanwhile, Eastern European nations Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic convened in Slovakia to discuss ways to diversify their energy supplies, Russian daily Kommersant noted.

"The EU must overcome its dependency on Russian hydrocarbons immediately," Polish President Lech Kaczynski said during the weekend. "However, the situation in Georgia complicates that decision."

Georgia is a transport host to Nabucco. While Nabucco is favored as a rival transport route, several European nations are cautious over provoking Moscow as the conflict in Georgia disrupted the flow of oil and gas in the region.

EU officials noted the dilemma during a Sept. 1 meeting on the Georgian conflict, adding provisions to a resolution condemning Russian aggression that states energy security is a priority for Europe.

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EU and U.S. officials plan to attend a summit on Nabucco in Budapest in January.

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