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The speaker of Ukraine's parliament said on Monday
The speaker of Ukraine's parliament said on Monday that he was in favor of reviving a proposal to establish a gas consortium between Russia and Ukraine.

"The idea has been discussed, all the basic documentation has been signed. We should examine this very seriously and gain a mutual advantage. The idea is good, and it needs to be brought back," Volodymyr Lytvyn told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Russia has said Ukraine's gas debts up to the end of December would exceed $3 billion. The Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, earlier warned that if the debt was not repaid then it would prevent the signing of a new gas deal after January 1, 2009, which may lead to gas supplies to the ex-Soviet republic being cut.

A delegation from Ukraine's national energy company is currently holding gas talks in Moscow to try and find a resolution to the current deadlock with Russia on Kiev's debt.

"We should prevent relations from reaching freezing point," the Ukrainian speaker said.

"The avalanche of unresolved problems, mutual mistrust and a lack of dialogue - all this has failed to go with a spirit of strategic partnership that should have been present in our relations," Lytvyn said after talks in Moscow with Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov.

Russia and Ukraine have experienced problems with reaching agreements on previous gas deals. Gazprom temporarily cut gas supplies to Ukraine after both sides failed to sign a contract at the start of 2006.

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