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EU ready to work with Russia to check Polish meat producers

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The European Union's executive body is ready to join Russia's agricultural watchdog in monitoring Polish meat producers that Moscow suspects of violating health regulations, a spokesman said Wednesday.
BRUSSELS, January 24 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union's executive body is ready to join Russia's agricultural watchdog in monitoring Polish meat producers that Moscow suspects of violating health regulations, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Moscow banned meat supplies from Poland in late 2005, citing food safety concerns and numerous attempts to export banned produce with falsified health safety certificates. Russia said last week it would send experts to Poland to inspect meat factories within a month.

Philip Tod, the European Commission's spokesman on Health and Consumer Protection, said the commission had received a reply from Russian veterinary authorities to the executive body's report on EU expert inspections at Polish meat factories.

Tod said the commission was waiting for a translation of the document, which would most likely be followed with inspections of individual Polish companies wanting to export meat to Russia.

Sergei Dankvert, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Oversight, was skeptical about the European Commission's report, which he described as unspecific and unclear.

"The documents we have received on the checks which European Commission experts conducted at Polish enterprises do not provide the information one would expect from experts, but rather resemble information filed by diplomats," he said.

Last week's negotiations in Berlin between Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev and EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou brought an agreement that Russia would continue talks on imports of Polish meat with the European Commission rather than hold direct negotiations with Poland.

In protest against Russia's year-long embargo, which Poland considered political, Warsaw vetoed the start of talks on a new Russia-EU cooperation agreement in November 2006.

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