Iran ready to supply gas to Georgia

Iran has indicated it is prepared to export natural gas to this former Soviet country, which has been severely hit by a sharp drop in Russian gas deliveries, Georgia's energy minister said Tuesday.

Millions of Georgians remained without gas Tuesday for the third day in freezing winter temperatures because of gas shortages that followed pipeline blasts in a southern Russian region neighboring &to=http://english.pravda.ru/comp/2003/01/14/42013.html' target=_blank>Georgia.

The incident has prompted Georgia's pro-Western government to urgently seek to diversify its energy imports.

"Iran has said it is willing to supply gas to Georgia," Energy Minister Nika Gilauri told reporters after a quick trip to Iran.

Half of the 1.5 million residents in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, are without gas, while in the rest of the 4.7-million nation, only two mountainous regions are getting gas supplies, Energy Ministry spokeswoman Teona Doliashvili said.