Hungary and Russia hold talks on gas, nuclear plant

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BUDAPEST, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Hungary’s foreign minister said on Friday he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York and discussed gas shipments and construction of the Paks nuclear plant being built by Russia’s Rosatom.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto will meet Rosatom’s chief executive on Monday to discuss the next milestones in the nuclear plant project, he said in a Facebook video following the meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Gazprom GAZP.MM started to ramp up gas supply to Hungary last month, adding to previously agreed deliveries under a long-term supply deal via the Turkstream pipeline. Russia supplies Hungary with most of its oil and gas needs.

EU-member Hungary has sharply criticised EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, saying the moves have failed to weaken Moscow meaningfully, while they risk destroying the European economy.

Szijjarto said he told Lavrov that Hungary wanted peace. He added that he believed the U.N. meeting would have been an opportunity to start peace talks but this had not happened.

“Our national interests dictate that we should pursue a reliable and predictable cooperation with Russia, with Gazprom, as without this, Hungary’s natural gas supply would not be secure,” Szijjarto said.

“Without Russian energy, the Hungarian economy would not be able to operate.”

Szijjarto said Hungary had received another shipment of nuclear fuel for the Paks plant from Russia.

Hungary aims to expand the plant with two Russian-made VVER reactors with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts each. Nuclear energy is not subject to European Union sanctions.

Paks currently has four small Russian-built VVER 440 reactors with a combined capacity of about 2,000 megawatts which started operating between 1982 and 1987.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jason Neely)

Photo – Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. EPA-EFE/ANDREJ CUKIC

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