Putin mulls gas "OPEC" project
Russian president Vladimir Putin said Thursday he was considering forming a gas"OPEC" along the lines of the oil cartel of the same name. Putin was speaking at a marathon, three and a half hour long, press conference in the Kremlin with more than 1,000 foreign and local journalists. The suggestion, which bounces off a proposal put forward by Iran, will further alarm the United States as well as governments in Europe concerned about Moscow's use of its vast energy resources as a political weapon. It underlines the need for the West in general and the European Union in particular to forge a coherent response. Other points made by Putin at the press conference include: ** Transneft, Russia's oil pipeline company, has been ordered to increase loading capacity on the Baltic Pipeline System by one million barrels a day. ** Russia supports the right of Iran to develop peaceful nuclear technology. ** Russia will respond to US anti-missile systems deployed in central Europe with a new generation of missiles. ** The idea of a"union state" with Belarus is not lost and the two countries will continue to talk about adopting a common currency. ** Putin said he would not rig his succession at the March 2008 presidential elections, repeating once again that he would not try to stay on for a third term. ** Asked about his attitude to the Mayor of Moscow's decision to ban a gay pride parade, Putin said:"My approach toward gay parades and sexual minorities is very simple and is directly linked to my responsibilities... One of the key problems of our country is the demographic problem..." Make of that what you will.
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