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EC hopes talks with Russia start before Russia-EU summit

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MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission hopes talks on a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the EU will start before a Russia-EU summit, an EC official said Wednesday.

Last November, EU newcomer Poland vetoed talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Moscow and Brussels replacing the current pact, which expires in late 2007, over a Russian ban on meat and other agricultural imports from Poland. Moscow cited health concerns, but Warsaw said the move was political.

Ria Oomen-Ruijten told a news conference she hoped the talks would proceed quickly.

In turn, Marc Franco, the head of the European Commission's mission in Moscow, said the talks could start before the Russia-EU summit.

The PCA between Russia and the EU was signed June 24, 1994 in Corfu, Greece. The document entered into force December 1, 1997. It is valid for 10 years and will be extended further if the two sides deem it useful and necessary. Russia has repeatedly voiced the necessity to start talks.

Oomen-Ruijten said a provision on energy should be included in the new agreement, saying the EU buys almost 70% of its energy from Russia.

Speaking about the current situation around the talks, Oomen Ruijten said everything possible was being done to restart them. However, she did not name any specific measures the EU intends to make.

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