Russian president Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed his nation's commitment to a pipeline channeling oil to Asia, despite the death of the regional governor who championed the project.

Mr. Putin spoke by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday to discuss implementation of the Sakhalin 2 pipeline, which will end at Sakhalin Island just north of Japan.

Mr. Putin also met with representatives of the Shell Oil company, which has a large stake in the project. In addition to discussing the eastern pipeline, Mr. Putin said they also discussed a proposal for a pipeline routing oil to Europe.

The governor of the Sakhalin region, Igor Farkhutdinov, had been a motivating force behind the eastern pipeline project before his death last month in a helicopter crash.