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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Joins Signatories Of Europe Energy Pact

LISBON, Portugal -- Russia and 45 other countries have signed the European Energy Charter, aimed at boosting investment in the energy sector of the former eastern bloc.

"This treaty sets the foundations for Russia's entry to an international network that will open up our economy and push forward the distribution and sale of our products," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov said at the weekend signing.

The treaty aims to guarantee Western investments in the oil and natural gas fields of the former east bloc and paves the way for new investment by complying signatories to treat foreign energy firms on an equal footing as national ones. It also will encourage free trade, rights of transit among signatory states and set up dispute procedures in case of discrimination against foreign investors.

Davydov said Russia signed after last-minute consultations about trade in nuclear materials and the repatriation of investments from Russia to foreign investors. He said Russia had wanted to be sure that the treaty would not force it to adopt quotas on the sale of its nuclear materials, such as uranium.

"Today in Russia we don't have any quantitive restrictions on the import of goods. We would be against the European Union applying any quantitive restrictions on Russia," Davydov said.

The EU's Energy Commissioner, Marcelino Oreja, said trade in nuclear materials between Russia and the EU was covered by cooperation agreements signed in 1989 and 1994.

"The problems related to nuclear material are excluded from the Energy Charter," Oreja said.

The U.S. and Canada had not signed the treaty as they had still to work out the implications for their states, conference chairman Charles Rutten said.

German Economy Minister Gunter Rexrodt said: "We in the EU are keen that the United States should sign the treaty and during the negotiations we tried everything to facilitate the signing by the U.S."

He added: "The door is open and we set great store by the expressed will of the U.S. to cooperate" with the aims of the treaty.