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Russian deputy PM says gas transit risks to EU remain

MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian deputy prime minister said on Thursday that the transit of Russian natural gas to Europe is still subject to risks, and that a new energy treaty needs to be agreed to ensure stable supplies.

"We believe that risks remain. We have not yet achieved guaranteed stability, and are ready to clarify our position on this issue," Igor Sechin told EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs at a meeting in Moscow.

Sechin said that the 1991 Energy Charter, which Russia has not ratified, has proved a failure.

"The Energy Charter treaty has proved its non-viability," he said, noting among other points its lack of provisions for reacting to emergencies.

He said that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent proposals on the drafting of a new comprehensive energy treaty to European partners.

The original Energy Charter was signed in The Hague on December 17, 1991. By ratifying the treaty, Russia would have to give access to its pipelines for free natural gas transit from Central Asia to the European Union. However, Russian companies would not be able to freely access European pipelines.

Speaking on Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told his Bulgarian counterpart: "We do not consider ourselves bounded by the charter, and now we can say that we see no point in remaining a signatory to the document."