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Talks fail to resolve gas crisis

RUSSIAN President Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday there were "still no results" from efforts to end a dispute crippling gas supplies to eastern Europe, dashing hopes of a quick end to the 11-day-old crisis.

"Unfortunately, and I would like to underline this, all the efforts have so far yielded no results," Medvedev said as he opened a Kremlin meeting of nations involved in the dispute.

At a news conference after the meeting, the Russian leader reiterated that Kiev had to agree to European-level prices for its gas supplies, more than double the level it is now paying. Ukraine says it cannot afford this.

Earlier in the day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did not hold planned talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko.

There was no official explanation for the failure to negotiate but a source close to the Russian side said it appeared Tymoshenko lacked the necessary mandate to discuss a solution and had come to Moscow "empty-handed."

Medvedev said Putin and Tymoshenko would continue talks on resolving the crisis. Russia invited heads of government of all countries buying or transporting its gas to the talks in Moscow yesterday but most stayed away.

The Czech presidency of the European Union urged member states not to attend, so Brussels could speak with one voice for them. Slovakia was the only EU member to come, apart from the Czechs.


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