March 10, 2014 08:08
Four central European countries are asking the United States to make it easier for them to import natural gas from the U.S. so they can reduce their reliance on Russia.
Ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia made their appeal in a letter to the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.
They wrote that U.S. natural gas would be welcome in central and eastern Europe and would be a key U.S. interest in the region.
Previous disputes over gas payments between Russia and Ukraine have caused Russia to cut off supplies. The same pipelines that bring Russian gas to Ukraine also supply eastern Europe, creating shortages there.
Russia Friday warned the interim Ukrainian government of another possible shutdown over unpaid gas bills.
Boehner said Saturday he hopes President Barack Obama will direct the secretary of energy to immediately approve pending natural gas export requests so America's friends in Europe and around the world can reduce their dependency on Russia.
The White House has said that a mild European winter has created above average gas supplies and that any new exports would be unlikely to reach Europe before the end of 2015.
Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.
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