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Nabucco tops regional agenda

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The Nabucco pipeline to Europe will top the agenda as the Czech prime minister, who currently heads the European Union, visits Caspian natural gas suppliers.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is to discuss gas ties with Caspian suppliers during visits to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

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Europe put easing its dependency on Russian natural gas as a priority. Disruptions stemming from a January row between Russia and Ukraine over gas debts and contracts prompted renewed focus on that goal, as the majority of Russian gas bound for Europe travels through Ukrainian territory.

Topolanek said the EU needs to exercise its collective political will to move the project forward, the Trend Capital news agency reported. He blamed EU members for not acting in concert despite interest from the Caspian suppliers to support the project.

"If Europe lingers, it may be late," he said.

The $10.7 billion, 2,051-mile Nabucco project would bring natural gas to Europe from the Caspian and Middle East.

Andris Piebalgs, the EU energy commissioner, said he would push Nabucco at a May 7 energy conference in the Czech Republic.



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