Russia will wait until EU ready for new treaty talks - Lavrov

Other News Materials 30 April 2008 00:01 (UTC +04:00)

Russia will wait until the European Union is prepared to start talks on a new cooperation agreement, the Russian foreign minister said Tuesday.

Lithuania blocked a mandate Tuesday on a new EU-Russia treaty, when foreign ministers from the 27-nation union discussed the issue in Luxembourg earlier in the day, the RIA Novosti reported.

" Russia is ready to wait until the EU is ready for talks on a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the EU," Sergei Lavrov said.

The Russian diplomat pledged to discuss the situation with the EU Troika and refused to comment on media speculation. Lavrov is due to meet with external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Dimitrij Ruper, Slovenian foreign minister, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, later on Tuesday.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned against dramatizing the issue and voiced expectations that approval for the talks would be obtained by June.

"I hope we will be able to persuade our colleagues in Lithuania in May that we need the mandate, and that we will have the mandate for a start of talks on a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the EU by June, when a summit will be held in Khanty-Mansiisk in Siberia," Asselborn said.

Vilnius demanded the talks address its concerns over Russian energy supplies and Moscow's policy on Georgia and Moldova.

Russia, which supplies over a quarter of Europe's natural gas, has repeatedly dismissed accusations it is using energy as a political tool and insists it is a reliable supplier.

A delegation of Slovenian officials is expected to travel to Vilnius to discuss Lithuania's concerns.