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Ukraine calls on Russia to continue gas talks
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Ukraine sent a note late Wednesday to Russia, calling on Moscow to "immediately resume" talks to settle the gas dispute.

"The note contains a proposal to immediately resume talks and suggests inviting representatives from the European Commission in reaching a new gas accord," Bogdan Sokolovski, Ukraine's presidential representative on energy issues, told reporters late Wednesday.

"Ukraine proposes to maintain, until such a new accord is signed, the existing volume of deliveries and transit" and to fix new conditions and prices at the time of signing, he added.

"We are ready to launch a new round of negotiations in the upcoming days or even hours," Sokolovski said, adding that the note was sent on the initiative of Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko.

In addition, Yushchenko and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko Wednesday night issued a joint statement, calling on Russia not to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and resume talks on this issue.

Alexei Miller, head of Russian gas giant Gazprom, said on Wednesday that all gas supplies to Ukraine will be switched off at 10:00 Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Jan. 1 after talks failed on the repayment of Ukraine's debts and a new contract for supplies in 2009.

Ukraine sits on the main transit route for Russian gas exports to Europe, accounting for 80 percent of the continent's gas supply by Russia.

In 2006, a dispute over gas prices between Kiev and Moscow sent jitters among European customers after Gazprom cut all gas supplies to Ukraine.

(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2009)

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