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Alexei Miller (right) the head of Gazprom, speaks with an official at the EC summit in Vladivostok, Russia. AP
Alexei Miller (right) the head of Gazprom, speaks with an official at the EC summit in Vladivostok, Russia. AP (AP)
Posted: September 09, 2012

Russia's gas firm in pact with Japan

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly, signed an accord Saturday with the government of Japan to move forward with plans for the construction of a $13 billion natural gas terminal here that would propel the Kremlin's ambitions to multiply its business and trade ties in the Far East.

While the ultimate deal still hinges on reaching an agreement on the price Japan will pay for the natural gas, the accord is a crucial step toward increasing Russian energy exports at a time when Japan is eager to find alternatives to its largely shuttered, and politically embattled, nuclear power industry.

The agreement was signed by Alexei Miller, the chairman of Gazprom, and Ichiro Takahara, a senior Japanese trade official, on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, which is being held in Russia for the first time.

Gazprom already sells natural gas to Japan, but another major deal would further reduce Russia's reliance on Europe as its primary market.

- AP

Iran aide cancels visit to Canada

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's parliamentary speaker canceled on Saturday a visit to Canada to protest Ottawa's decision to cut diplomatic relations, and Tehran's foreign ministry called "unwise" a five-day deadline set by Canada for Iranian diplomats to leave the country.

Canada shut its embassy in Tehran on Friday, accusing the Islamic Republic of being the most significant threat to world peace. The surprise action reinforces the Conservative government's close ties with Tehran's arch foe Israel.

To protest the cutting of ties, Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani decided not to attend a meeting of legislators from different countries scheduled for late October, Fars news agency said.

Tehran's Foreign Ministry meanwhile said that Ottawa's five-day deadline for its diplomats to leave was "unwise." It said Canada cut relations in an "unprofessional, unconventional, and unjustifiable manner while resorting to misusing international law."

- AP

Pakistan, India OK new visa pact

ISLAMABAD- Pakistan and India signed a new visa agreement Saturday, easing restrictions for travelers in a move seen as a tentative step between the rival South Asian countries to normalize their troubled relations.

The agreement, which will make travel between the countries easier for businessmen, tourists, and others, was signed by S.M. Krishna, the Indian minister for external affairs, and Rehman Malik, the Pakistani interior minister, in Islamabad.

Krishna, in Pakistan for a three-day tour, has held meetings with high-ranking government officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Both Indian and Pakistani officials offered optimistic statements about relations between the countries, despite continued tensions.

Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, speaking of the new visa agreement, said, "I am calling it the first step in normalization of relations with our neighbor."

- AP

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