MOSCOW, Mar 16 (AFP): Group of Eight energy ministers met in Moscow Thursday for a second day of talks on securing global energy supplies, with Moscow and Washington pressing for a nuclear fuel network and Europe seeking the reliable natural gas deliveries from Russia.
"We want Russia to produce more gas and consume less," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who will take part in discussions, told Moscow Echo radio in an interview late Wednesday.
Greater energy saving in the country "would be advantageous for Russia, the European Union and the international market," he said.
Europe, which depends on Russia for some 25 per cent of natural gas imports, is concerned that Russia may not be producing enough gas for export and is still edgy after Russian gas supply disruptions in January and February.
"It's important to have an agreement with the Russians on gas transit," French Industry Minister Francois Loos said ahead of a working dinner Wednesday with other ministers that kicked off the G8 meeting.
In Brussels, European Union ministers called for a "new partnership" with Russia to secure EU energy imports after Moscow's spat with Ukraine over natural gas prices disrupted the bloc's supplies in January.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday, said ahead of the visit that Europe and Russia were "energy interdependent" and should boost cooperation.
Ministers from the G8 club of industrialised nations, made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, were set to meet Putin in the Kremlin for talks Thursday.
Brazilian, Chinese, Indian and Mexican ministers are also expected at the G8 meeting along with representatives of international orgnisations, as part of Russian efforts to broaden the reach of G8 talks under its presidency of the elite group.
Russia, which is the world's second-biggest producer of oil after Saudi Arabia and has the world's largest reserves of natural gas, as well as being a major nuclear power, has made energy security a central theme for the G8 this year.
In a commentary in the Wall Street Journal last month entitled "Energy Egotism Is a Road to Nowhere," Putin wrote that "energy redistribution guided wholly by the priorities of a small group of the most-developed countries does not serve the goals and purposes of global development."
Global energy security "should be based on a long-term, reliable and environmentally sustainable energy supply at prices affordable to both the exporting countries and the consumers," he wrote.
Meanwhile, the United States plans to table discussions Thursday on building a UN-supervised global nuclear fuel network that would allow the spread of atomic power while impeding nuclear weapons proliferation, echoing a Russian proposal put forward by Putin in January.
"We have a choice: we can play a risky game of catch-up in the coming decades or we can engage the world with a new, safer and more secure approach to nuclear energy," US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Wednesday ahead of the meeting.