US Vice President Discusses Romanian Shale Gas, Defense Budget
Shale gas and military expenditures, alongside the Ukraine crisis, were the main issues in meetings of US Vice President Joe Biden with Romanian leaders.
"We discussed shale gas [with Vice President Biden]. It is quite clear that the US is encouraging such exploitation," AGERPRES agency quoted Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta as saying.
Ponta described as "very important" for Romania to have a capacity of its own natural gas production to meet domestic demand and that of Moldova as well.
In his words, he told Biden he had already convinced most of his interlocutors that "Chevron is always better than Gazprom".
Romania has embarked on a deal with US energy giant Chevron to extract shale gas from deposits in the north-eastern parts of the country, amid a division in society over the impact hydraulic fracking could have on the environment.
On his visit to Bucharest, Biden also met Romania's President Traian Basescu. He encouraged Basescu to push for an increase of military spending in the country to 2% of GDP, up from the present 1.36 percent.
His proposal matches Romania's plans to increase expenditures in the sector, reaching the same target by 2017.
Biden stressed the importance of a bolstered defense budget in the face of prospective negative developments in Ukraine. He warned Russia against undermining the presidential elections due to be held in Ukraine on May 25 and threatened Wasthington might impose further sanctions if it "undermines" the vote.
The Huffington Post quoted him as saying that the US anti-missile shield at Romania's Deveselu would become operational next year.
This week the US Vice President is in Eastern Europe to reassure commitment to the defense of regional allies, some of which have expressed concern over a potential treat coming from Russia following the Ukraine crisis.
Romania has been among the most outspoken critics of Russia's actions in Ukraine and has warned Moscow could opt for further aggression into European territory.
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