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EU fails to agree with Russia to end ban on Polish meat imports -1

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The European Union has failed to reach an agreement with Russia on ending a ban on Polish meat imports, a source close to the negotiations said Sunday.
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ATHENS, April 22 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union has failed to reach an agreement with Russia on ending a ban on Polish meat imports, a source close to the negotiations said Sunday.

Russia imposed an embargo on Polish meat in November 2005 claiming that meat from third countries was being imported under the cover of Polish produce, which failed to meet health standards.

The talks between EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev that started in the Cypriot resort city of Limassol April 21 focused on lifting the Russian embargo on Polish imports.

"Yesterday, indeed, the negotiations ended with the parties reiterating their positions but no final formula was found. Today the parties intended to continue looking for a mutually acceptable formulation but this seems to be difficult, proceeding from yesterday's result," the source said.

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

Poland sees Russian sanctions as retaliation for Warsaw's backing of the 2004 "orange revolution" in Ukraine, which brought pro-Western forces to power in the country.

Relations between Russia and Poland, a former Communist Bloc country that joined the EU in May 2004, have deteriorated dramatically in the past few years.

A string of recent diplomatic spats has increased mutual distrust between the two neighbors, prompting many politicians in Warsaw to conclude that the Kremlin is using the embargo on Polish imports as a political weapon.

The European Commission has said there were no grounds for an embargo on Polish products, but has admitted that Poland made deviations from European regulations on meat exports.

However, the EU-Russia negotiations on meat imports are still under way and it is early to say that they have failed, the European Commission said Sunday.

"The negotiations have not been completed, they are continuing. Let's wait for their completion before making any commentaries," European Commission spokesman Philip Tod said.

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