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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tymoshenko Courts Japanese Help

ReutersTymoshenko attending a joint news conference with Aso prior to their talks at his residence Wednesday in Tokyo.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko called on Japanese business on Wednesday to help modernize her country's gas pipelines, days after signing a declaration that may provide funds from Europe.

Japanese corporations will be able to help upgrade Ukraine's gas transit system, Tymoshenko told members of the Japanese Federation of Business on Wednesday, the Ukrainian government said on its web site.

Tymoshenko is on a two-day visit to the world's biggest economy after the United States, seeking to drum up investment in her country's energy industry.

Ukraine infuriated Russia earlier this week by turning to the European Union to help modernize its gas transit infrastructure, prompting Moscow to delay high-level talks due next month.

Ukraine's state-run energy company Naftogaz said on Wednesday that local utilities owed it 5 billion hryvnias ($650 million), which made payments to Gazprom more complicated.

"The rising debts of utilities significantly complicates Naftogaz payments for imported gas," it said in a statement.

The state-run Ukrainian Export-Import Bank signed an accord with Japanese Nippon Export and Investment Insurance that could see $500 million invested in Ukraine's energy industry, according to another statement on the government's site.

"This is the first time an agreement with Japanese financial institutes establishes the opportunity to pursue large-scale projects and receive considerable investments for them," Export-Import Bank CEO Viktor Kapustin said, according to the statement.

Japan is ready to help Ukraine minimize the effects of the financial and economic crisis, Prime Minister Taro Aso told Tymoshenko on Wednesday, the Ukrainian government said.

(Bloomberg, Reuters)