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Russia sees no obstacles to energy cooperation between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the West
Russia sees no obstacles to energy cooperation between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the West, the foreign minister said Friday. Some quarters in the United States and European Union criticized agreements reached at a summit held by the organization Thursday, calling them an attempt to establish energy hegemony. But speaking in Almaty, the commercial capital of SCO member Kazakhstan, Sergei Lavrov played downed these concerns. "There are no obstacles for cooperation with countries interested to join SCO-developed projects if the parties agree to it," he said. The five other permanent members of the SCO are Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. But Lavrov said issues of energy resources were the business of SCO member states, which were free to unite their efforts. However, he continued, if the West wanted access to Russian deposits, it should make proposals that would be advantageous for both sides. After a bitter spat with Ukraine in January that led to Moscow accusing Kiev of siphoning Russia's Europe-bound natural gas, several European countries have been seeking to reduce their dependence on Russian supplies by diversifying supply sources, which in turn has made Russia consider reaching out to energy-hungry Asian markets. Lavrov said Russia was looking to participate in all integration processes in Asia and the Asian Pacific region, citing experts as saying the region could become "a driving force for the global economy". But the foreign minister added that Russia did not want cooperation to be only confined to energy cooperation as it was also interested in transportation partnerships. "Besides, cooperation in the military and technical, civilian aviation and space sectors is highly attractive for our partners," he said.
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