On the eve of an EU-Russia summit, Europe is insisting that a plan to diversify its energy suppliers is not a move against any country.
The global financial crisis and energy are expected to dominate the one-day meeting in the French resort of Nice.
Europe imports one quarter of its gas needs from Russia, and eight EU states rely on it 100 percent.
Relaunching talks on a long-range partnership pact is one of the main concerns.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he believes the summit is very important – to see how far Russia is ready to commit to a common framework on energy. He said the EU is seeking a constructive dialogue.
As a further demonstration of shared interests, following the summit EU leaders and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will fly to an emergency meeting of G20 leaders in Washington to discuss reforming world finance.
Foreign policy disagreements with Russia over Georgia have been pushed into the background but France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, currently at the head of the EU’s rotating presidency, welcomed his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakachvili over to the Elysee Palace the day before the summit.
Sarkozy’s office said this was a clear show of solidarity with Georgia – which lies strategically along energy supply routes.
Russian armour that entered Georgia in August came close to pipelines which funnel Caspian oil and gas towards Europe.
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