Russia and the European Union signed Friday a document which guarantees that the 27-nation bloc would not export produce to Russia that is not permitted for sale on European markets on health grounds, and obliges Moscow to take on similar obligations. However, Russia has yet to lift a year-long ban on meat supplies from Poland.
"We have redirected the focus of talks [on the Polish meat supplies] to the level of direct negotiations between the European Commission and Russia," Alexei Gordeyev said, adding that this decision marks a new approach inspired by Russia's desire to settle the ongoing dispute as soon as possible.
The minister said the European Commission had provided Russia's food safety watchdog with the paperwork summarizing the results of its inspections at Polish meat processing factories.
"It will take some time to examine these documents and we will forward our conclusions to the European Commission later," Gordeyev said.
He also said Russia was planning to send within a month a group of food safety experts to Polish meat processing plants to inspect their compliance with Russian veterinary standards.
Moscow banned meat supplies from Poland in late 2005 over food safety concerns and numerous attempts to export banned agricultural products supplied under falsified health safety certificates.
In November 2006 Warsaw vetoed the start of talks on a new Russia-EU cooperation agreement, in protest against the embargo.