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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 19:31 GMT
US will appoint 'energy attache'
A pressure gauge on a gas pipeline in the vicinity of the town of Boyarka, near Kiev, Ukraine on Tuesday
Energy supplies have been a source of international disputes
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she will appoint a special US energy envoy to monitor the use of oil and gas for political ends.

Ms Rice said the politics of energy were "warping diplomacy in certain parts of the world".

Venezuela and Russia have been at the centre of recent wrangles over energy.

Separately, Ms Rice called a Russian suggestion it could train missiles on its neighbour Ukraine if it joins the Nato military alliance "reprehensible".

Instability

Ms Rice was speaking to a US government body, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The committee's top Republican, Senator Richard Lugar, asked what progress had been made appointing an energy envoy - an appointment laid down in legislation approved last year, Associated Press reported.

Condoleezza Rice testifies in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington DC on Wednesday
The... reprehensible rhetoric that is coming out of Moscow is unacceptable
Condoleezza Rice
US secretary of state

"I do intend to appoint, and we are looking for, a special energy co-ordinator who could especially spend time on the Central Asian and Caspian region," she said.

The appointee would also report on the growing instability in world energy markets.

The confirmation comes against a backdrop of increasingly frequent disputes over energy supplies.

On Wednesday, Venezuela announced it was suspending sales of crude oil to the world's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, following a row over the nationalisation of an oil project.

And tensions over gas have simmered between Russia, the Ukraine and Europe since January 2006, when a row erupted over increases in gas prices.

A new episode of the dispute between Moscow and Kiev was only defused on Tuesday.

Russia chided

Ms Rice also responded to comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, in which he warned that Russia "cannot theoretically exclude" the possibility of training its missiles on Ukraine if the latter joined the Nato military alliance and hosted US missile defence assets.

Russia is unhappy at US plans to deploy its missile defence shield across Eastern Europe.

"The unhelpful and really, I will use a different word, reprehensible rhetoric that is coming out of Moscow is unacceptable, and it's not helpful to a relationship that actually has some positive aspects," Ms Rice told a Senate committee hearing.

She cited US-Russian co-operation on the North Korean nuclear issue, Iran, the Middle East and terrorism.

But "when it comes to issues that come out of the structure of post-Cold War Europe, we get this kind of rhetoric", Ms Rice told the committee.

SEE ALSO
Venezuela breaks ties with Exxon
13 Feb 08 |  Business
Energy gap: Crisis for humanity?
26 Jan 06 |  Science/Nature

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