Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas won the backing of his Latvian and Estonian counterparts on Monday for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania . Brazauskas , Latvia 's Aigars Kalvitis and Estonia 's Andrus Ansip signed a memorandum calling for the construction of the new nuclear power plant at a meeting of the Baltic prime ministers in Trakai, some 28 kilometers (17 miles) west of the capital, Vilnius .
"It is very important that members of the EU sustain the right to choose which energy sector they should develop," Brazauskas said. The three Baltic states joined the EU in 2004.
There was no indication of when or where the new nuclear plant would be built, or how it would be financed. As part of its deal to join the bloc, Lithuania agreed to shut down completely by 2009 its existing nuclear power plant in Ignalina, which currently provides more than 90 percent of the country's electricity.
The Ignalina plant, located 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Vilnius, is similar in type to that at Chernobyl in Ukraine, site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986. Increases in the price of Russian oil and gas imports have prompted some Lithuanian lawmakers to back the construction of a new nuclear power plant.
"Latvian and Estonian energy companies will be invited to invest in the nuclear power plant project," said Nemira Pumprickaite, Brazauskas' spokeswoman. The prime ministers also agreed Monday to try to establish a joint position on energy issues before a European Council meeting in Brussels on March 23-24, reports the AP.
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