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Putin to Visit Middle East to Discuss Gas Cartel

From the IHT:

President Vladimir Putin of Russia concluded an overnight visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday and then traveled to Qatar, where he and the emir announced plans to explore the creation of a natural gas cartel. Russia and Qatar are top producers of natural gas. “We do not reject the idea of creating a gas cartel,” Putin said, according to a report Monday evening from The Associated Press. “But this initiative requires more study.” European countries import a quarter of their natural gas from Russia and leaders of the European Union have said they do not want to see Russia gain increased powers in this market. The three-day Putin trip is focusing both on expanding Russia’s strategic role in the region and on cementing business ties. In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Putin signed numerous memorandums of understanding and met with Saudi businessmen, seeking to encourage bilateral trade and technology cooperation, and even pledging to help Saudi Arabia develop the capability to generate nuclear power.