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Germany says Russia should ratify energy treaty

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, Mar 22 (Reuters) Russia should join the Energy Charter Treaty and open up its energy market, Germany's foreign minister told the daily Handelsblatt in the run-up to a European Union summit debate on a common energy policy for the bloc.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote in an article to be published tomorrow that if Russia ratified the treaty, this would provide a basis to open it for other countries.

''A ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty in the year of Russia's G8 presidency would be a clear commitment by Europe's biggest energy supplier to a Europe-wide set of rules,'' Steinmeier wrote. ''Such a step could pave the way for opening the charter toward Asia and the Persian Gulf,'' he added.

The treaty, which has been ratified by more than 40 mostly European and Asian countries, aims to create a level playing field and reduce risks for investments and trade in the sector.

So far Russia, the 25-nation bloc's biggest supplier of fossil fuels, has refused to ratify the treaty as this would require it to give third countries access to its pipeline network.

Steinmeier said the European Union should establish an energy dialogue on a political level with key consumers like the United States as well as push for the opening of Russia's market.

''Based on our deep mutual dependence in energy questions the main issue has to be the mutual opening of markets,'' he said.

EU leaders are expected to endorse a European Commission discussion paper proposing a common energy policy at the two-day summit starting tomorrow.

The paper aims to develop a strategic energy partnership with Russia, promote a single voice for contacts with third-party suppliers and encourage investment in diversification of energy sources.

Reuters DH VP0228

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