Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to assure European Union leaders that his country is a reliable trading partner, following a brief disruption of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and Europe in January.

Mr. Putin's comments came Thursday at the close of a one-day Russian-EU summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Russian president said Moscow is committed to preventing a recurrence of the gas cut-off. That brief crisis was triggered when a quarrel between Russia and Ukraine over prices sharply reduced the flow of gas to western Europe.

Mr. Putin also urged the European Union to open talks aimed at developing a new framework agreement with Russia. The current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, signed in 1997, expires next year.

Separately, the leaders signed deals making short-stay visas for travel between Europe and Russia easier to obtain.

Analysts had described the Sochi meeting as a chance for Mr. Putin to ease European gas supply concerns ahead of the summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies plus Russia. Mr. Putin will host that meeting in St. Petersburg in July.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.