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BERLIN: Germany has agreed a long-term energy partnership with Qatar as it looks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, a spokeswoman for the economy ministry said on Sunday.

Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck secured the deal on a visit to Doha as part of efforts to diversify Germany’s energy supply, according to his ministry.

The next step will be for the companies involved to “enter into the concrete contract negotiations”, the spokeswoman said.

Habeck had held talks in Doha with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, one of the world’s three biggest exporters of liquified natural gas (LNG).

European states are increasingly counting on LNG as a means of weaning themselves off Russian gas in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of his trip, which also includes a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio that Germany had major concerns over securing supplies for next winter.

“If we do not obtain more gas next winter and if deliveries from Russia were to be cut then we would not have enough gas to heat all our houses and keep all our industry going,” he warned.

Berlin has come in for criticism over its opposition to an immediate embargo being imposed on Russian energy supplies as a means of choking off a major source of Moscow’s foreign earnings.

But Germany believes a boycott could cripple its economy and saddle society with huge rises in energy prices as well as lead to shortages.

Habeck, also minister for climate affairs, has already recently visited another gas powerhouse Norway, as well as current top global exporter the United States.

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