Lithuanian president says work on nuclear plant to begin 2009

Lithuanian president says work on nuclear plant to begin 2009 Siauliai, Lithuania  - Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said Friday that work on a much delayed new nuclear power station in his country will get underway before the end of 2009 and possibly as early as the autumn.

"By May we will have a business plan. By the fall we can probably start work on digging the ground," Adamkus told journalists after meeting with his Latvian and Estonian counterparts.

Lithuania's sole nuclear power station at Ignalina, which provides power across the region, is due to shut down at the end of 2009. Closing the Soviet-era plant was part of the terms under which Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004.

Plans for the construction of a replacement reactor in partnership with Estonia, Latvia and Poland, have made slow progress, with experts saying a new plant could be ready by 2016 at the earliest.

"We definitely have had our internal problems, but I am committed to the project, even if it takes work 24 hours a day," Adamkus said.

His remarks came as Adamkus was hosting the one-day annual meeting of the Baltics states' presidents, also involving Latvian President Valdis Zatlers and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Other topics at the meeting concern vital economic issues, stability topics and the Baltic states' five years of membership in NATO, officials said. (dpa)