'Last chance' gas talks in Moscow
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Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's Prime Minister, left Kiev on Saturday for crunch talks in Moscow aimed at ending the energy dispute that has disrupted gas deliveries to Europe.
AFP - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko left Kiev on Saturday for crunch talks in Moscow in a bid to resolve the gas crisis with Russia, the government's press service said.
"Tymoshenko has left on a working visit to Moscow for negotiations on the reliable transit of gas to Europe and supplies of gas to Ukraine," said a statement on the government's web site.
In statement before the meeting, Tymoshenko said she was going to Moscow "to reach an agreement with Russia on reliable transit of Russian gas to Europe, and not least, the reliable supply of gas to Ukraine.
Tymoshenko was to meet with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the first high-level direct contact between the Russian and Ukrainian governments since the start of the gas supply crisis on New Year's Day.
She expressed confidence a deal could be reached, saying: "There is a need to compromise in order to preserve friendly relations between Ukraine and Russia and to uphold the reputation of both countries in Europe.
"I am sure that such a compromise will be brokered," she added.
In a broadside at her rival President Viktor Yushchenko, Tymoshenko accused his administration of weakening Ukraine's negotiating position by interfering in negotiations with Russia.
"I need two things: for nobody to thrust a stick in the wheel and a knife in the back," she said.
She also blamed "political forces within Ukraine that have corrupt links to shadowy middleman Rosukrenergo" for provoking the crisis by sabotaging a deal reached in late December.
Allegations of corruption surround Swiss-based Rosukrenergo, a firm jointly owned by Gazprom and Ukrainian entrepreneurs that acts as an intermediary in Russian-Ukrainian gas deals.
'Last chance' gas talks
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko began talks Saturday that the EU says are the "last and best chance" to resolve the gas crisis.
Putin and Tymoshenko were seen shaking hands on a live video feed from the Russian government building in Moscow before the start of the first face-to-face talks by the two governments since the start of the dispute on New Year's Day.
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