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Putin, Yanukovych meet on gas after pipe lease offer

President Vladimir Putin met his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych Monday as Ukraine seeks to trim the price it pays Gazprom for fuel supplies by leasing out its natural gas pipelines. Ukraine plans to lease the network of pipes that ships Russian gas to the European Union to guarantee stable transit and fund maintenance, Yanukovych said March 1. The move is aimed at securing a lower price for gas imports from Russia, which is prepared to pay to upgrade Ukraine’s pipelines, he said. The two presidents’ talks outside Moscow ended without any statement, and Putin’s spokesman declined to say whether talks would continue, Reuters reported. Ukraine has been seeking to renegotiate its Russian gas accord, which it says imposes the highest prices in Europe, for more than a year as the International Monetary Fund urges lower energy subsidies as a condition for aid.