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Medvedev, Putin to talk energy, ties with EU in Moscow


MOSCOW, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is to meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Friday for talks to focus on energy, the global financial crisis, and Russia-EU ties.

The Kremlin talks come as part of as series of meetings between the Russian government and European Commission officials. Barroso, who is leading the EC delegation, will also meet with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Russian cabinet later on Friday.

Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko said on Thursday the main topics at the talks would be "trade and economic cooperation, the consequences of the financial crisis for the Russian and EU economies, preparations for the next G20 summit in London on April 2, and energy security in the light of the lessons learnt from the gas crisis created by Ukraine."

A bitter natural gas debt and pricing row between Russia and Ukraine led to an almost two-week cutoff in supplies to Europe, which receives a quarter of its gas from Russia, last month as Russia accused Kiev of stealing its EU-bound gas.

Disputes between Russia and former Soviet transit nations have made EU states uneasy about energy dependence on Russia.

In the wake of the gas dispute, Putin urged steps to speed up projects to diversify supply routes.

He also proposed energy asset swaps, clearing energy prices "as much as possible" of speculative transactions, and fixing free market-based transit tariffs to deter a global energy shortage during the financial crisis.

Prikhodko highlighted concerns over the Russian economy's dependence on oil and gas revenues and complained about discrimination against Russia in cooperation in the hi-tech sphere, aviation, agriculture, environment and visa regulations.

He also said the talks would see a "discussion of the general state of Russia-EU relations, their long-term development prospects, and a new security system in Europe."

Russia's November proposals on a new European security treaty include a legally binding provision barring military blocs or coalitions from taking action that would weaken overall security and from expanding at the expense of other signatories to the treaty.

The meeting with European officials will take place ahead of a third round of long-delayed talks on a new comprehensive cooperation pact due in Brussels on February 13.

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