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Europe Urges Russia, Ukraine To End Gas Dispute

2 January 2006 -- European leaders have continued to urge Russia and Ukraine to end their gas dispute, which has caused a considerable fall in gas deliveries to Europe.

The French government today urged Russia and Ukraine to resume negotiations "as soon as possible" over the row about the price Kyiv pays Moscow for gas.

Speaking in Paris, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said Moscow and Kyiv must find an "agreement acceptable to everyone."

The German government also urged a compromise today. Spokesman Thomas Steg said that "the German government has an emphatic interest that, in the interest of securing gas supplies to Germany and Western Europe, the talks end as quickly as possible with a compromise acceptable to both sides."

Steg added that the European Union would take the lead in pushing Moscow and Kyiv toward a deal.

Austrian Vice Chancellor Hubert Gorbach also said today that the leaders of Russia and Ukraine needed to make a deal. But he added that the dispute did not urgently require EU mediation.

The Austria Press Agency quoted Gorbach as saying that the EU should only get involved if the situation worsens.

A number of Central European countries have noticed a substantial drop in gas pressure today. Yesterday, Russia began restricting gas flow to Ukraine.

A panel of EU energy experts will meet on 4 January to discuss the crisis.