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EU Pushing Energy Cooperation With Central Asia

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana meets with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (AFP) October 10, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is in Kazakhstan today as part of a Central Asian tour to promote cooperation between the region and the EU, particularly in the field of energy resources.

Speaking in the Kazakh capital, Astana, Solana said the EU supports construction of a trans-Caspian natural-gas pipeline, calling it an important project.

"It's a project that has to be implemented," Solana said. "Of course, we have to find...the companies to [realize] that part of the pipeline that still doesn't exist. As you know, one of the problems of gas from this region is how to get it out into Europe and, without a doubt, the trans-Caspian route could be one important possibility."

Solana was in Turkmenistan on October 9, where he also promoted energy cooperation with the EU and the construction of the trans-Caspian pipeline.

Solana said he hoped the current difficulties between the Kazakh government and the Italian-led international consortium operating Kazakhstan's vast Kashagan oil field in the Caspian Sea would soon be resolved.

The Italian company Eni heads the international consortium, but the company had delayed its estimated starting date for production from 2005 to 2008. In August, it again delayed the start of production, to 2010.

The consortium also announced that the cost of the project will be $136 billion, instead of the $57 billion the consortium originally quoted as the price.

Solana said regional security was also a topic in talks with Kazakh officials. Solana added that events in Afghanistan and Iran were part of the discussion, though he did not elaborate.

(RFE/RL's Turkmen and Kazakh Services)

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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