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Published: Wednesday April 16, 2014 MYT 4:07:50 PM
Updated: Wednesday April 16, 2014 MYT 4:09:28 PM

Passage of South Stream pipeline via Turkey possible - minister

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey would consider allowing the South Stream pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Russia to Europe, to pass through Turkish territory if Moscow made such a request, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday.

The future of the 2,400 km (1,490 mile) line from Russia via the Black Sea to Europe, avoiding Ukraine, has been cast into doubt because of the crisis over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"We are open to assessing any request for the line to pass through Turkey's territory," Yildiz told reporters when asked about the South Stream project.

"It is said that there could be such a demand. If there is a request, we will consider it," said Yildiz, due to hold talks with Gazprom deputy head Alexander Medvedev in Ankara on Monday.

South Stream is planned to pump gas into Bulgaria and from there further into the EU by the end of the decade.

Gazprom's partner in the project, Italy's Eni, has said the future of South Stream has been put in question by the escalating dispute over Ukraine. The EU has also postponed clearing the project.

Unprecedented talks across the European Union on Tuesday showed it scrambling for solutions on the ground to break its dependence on Russian gas and help supply Ukraine.

Despite the crisis in East-West relations, the consortium running the South Stream project said it would start laying the first stretch of pipes this autumn.

Besides Gazprom and Eni, the other shareholders in the project are France's EDF and Germany's Wintershall.

(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker and Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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