MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey's government has approved geological exploration work for the South Stream gas pipeline in its Black Sea economic zone, the Kremlin quoted the countries' presidents as saying on Monday.
During a phone conversation, "Turkey's president said that in line with earlier agreements... the Turkish government has made all necessary decisions to approve the conducting of geological exploration work in Turkey's exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea for the implementation of the South Stream gas pipeline project," the Kremlin said.
Dmitry Medvedev thanked Abdullah Gul and said he hopes the decision will strengthen strategic bilateral ties.
Turkey's energy minister said earlier in the day that his country will officially hand Russia documents approving the laying of the South Stream gas pipeline along its seabed on October 20.
Taner Yildiz spoke to journalists in Milan after a three-party meeting involving Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Italian economics minister Claudio Scajola.
On August 6, Russia and Turkey signed agreements on cooperation in the gas sphere, envisioning in particular Turkish consent for the construction of the South Stream pipeline, in its territorial waters - an alternative to the Nabucco pipeline important for Ankara.
The 25 billion-euro ($36.5 billion) South Stream project is designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, bypassing Ukraine, which has frequent disputes with Russia over gas supplies and transits. The pipeline's capacity is expected to be eventually increased to 63 billion cubic meters.