Tymoshenko-Gazprom Talks Fail to Clarify Gas Agreement

Russia and Ukraine failed to clarify details of their gas agreement after Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko held lengthy talks Thursday at Gazprom's Moscow headquarters.

Tymoshenko met Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov on Wednesday, and both politicians said they would stick to gas agreements reached by their presidents earlier this month, despite fears that she could challenge the deal.

But on Thursday, Tymoshenko unexpectedly went to the Gazprom skyscraper on Moscow's outskirts to meet chief executive Alexei Miller for talks that lasted more than four hours.

"The meeting is over. Talks will continue," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters.

Tymoshenko is expected in Kiev on Friday for a Cabinet meeting.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko met President Vladimir Putin last week and clinched a last-minute deal to settle payment of Ukrainian arrears for gas supplies and, over time, to eliminate intermediaries in the gas trade. But Gazprom and Ukraine's state energy firm Naftogaz produced conflicting statements following the deal, suggesting that final details had yet to be agreed upon.

Ukrainian officials had said Tymoshenko might want to start talks from scratch, a move that Yushchenko condemned. Yushchenko this week accused her government of negligence and moving too slowly in paying off the arrears.

Naftogaz on Thursday obtained a waiver from foreign creditors to avoid technical default on a $500 million euro bond.