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Russia covers 90% of EU natural gas needs, Putin

LONDON, October 3 (RIA Novosti)-Russia covers 90% of the European Union's natural gas needs, President Vladimir Putin told a news conference at the end of the Russia-EU summit Tuesday.

"Russia is a reliable partner and has never let its partners in Europe down," the Russian leader said.

"Rumors that Europe could lose its energy independence are greatly exaggerated," he said, echoing British premier Tony Blair's opinion that neither side depended on the other.

Putin said that Russia and the EU had attained a new level of strategic interaction.

"We made a decision to allow [our] European partners to produce natural gas in Russia," he said.

He added that the partners had met Russia halfway by granting it access to electricity distribution networks including in Europe. "And together we intend to pursue major infrastructure projects, including the construction of the North European Gas Pipeline," the president added.

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