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EC hopes Russia, Ukraine will reach agreement on gas issue

BRUSSELS, June 13. /ITAR-TASS/. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has expressed hope that Moscow and Kiev would be able to reach "firm" agreement on the gas issue.

Both parties will be able to take additional efforts aimed at coming to an agreement on the basis of the European Commission's options, Barroso said during a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

During the conversation, Putin and Barroso discussed the situation in Ukraine, the European Commission said in a report circulated to Itar-Tass.

Barroso spoke about the EC's position on de-escalation in Ukraine and the ceasefire, the report says.

Earlier, the Kremlin said Putin and Barroso had agreed to hold consultations within the Russia-EC-Ukraine format at the expert and ministerial levels.

The tripartite consultations are planning to be held in the context of the Association Agreement that the European Commission and Ukraine are preparing to sign, the Kremlin said.

"Putin and Barroso exchanged views on the crisis in Ukraine, the payment of Kiev's debt for Russian gas and preparations for signing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU," the Kremlin said.

Putin also emphasised the need to immediately stop the military operation in the southeast of Ukraine.