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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

German Sticks Up for Balts

WARSAW -- German President Horst Kohler said Poland and the Baltic states should be consulted about plans to build a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing the Eastern European states.

The Baltic pipeline plans have added to fears in Eastern Europe that Berlin and Moscow might put their own interests ahead of those of their less powerful neighbors, jeopardizing energy security in countries once part of the Soviet empire.

German Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement said Monday that Germany should strengthen ties with resource-rich Russia.

Next month, President Vladimir Putin will visit Berlin, and talks are expected to focus on energy, including the Baltic link.

"I believe that Poland and the Baltic states should be included in this process," K?hler told a news conference after meeting his Polish counterpart in Warsaw. "We should hold talks on this issue with the participation of these countries. This is a necessary step," Kohler added.

The main gas link between Germany and Russia is the Yamal pipeline, which runs partly through Poland. It will hit its capacity of 34 billion cubic meters per year in early 2006.

Plans to expand it further, in line with earlier agreements, are in question after supplier and part owner Gazprom signed a deal to invest in the undersea Baltic link with German chemicals group BASF.