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Russia persists with Polish meat ban - EU

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The European Commission said it had received a letter from the Russian agriculture minister reiterating Moscow's refusal to lift its ban on meat imports from Poland a week before a Russia-EU summit.
BRUSSELS, May 11 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission said it had received a letter from the Russian agriculture minister reiterating Moscow's refusal to lift its ban on meat imports from Poland a week before a Russia-EU summit.

The meat ban introduced in 2005 is hampering negotiations on a new Russia-EU partnership deal to replace the current 1997 agreement, which expires in December. The issue acquired new importance in view of the Russia-EU summit in Samara on the Volga May 17-18.

"The letter restates the Russian position as expressed at the meeting in Cyprus," Philip Tod, spokesman for the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection, said, adding that Minister Alexei Gordeyev had passed the letter to EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou Thursday night.

During the negotiations in Cyprus April 21-22, Gordeyev and Kyprianou failed to agree to lift the embargo, but Tod said EU officials were continuing talks with Russian veterinary authorities. "The Commission will give its response in due course," Tod added.

The European Commission's vice-president, Guenter Verheugen, said Thursday the Commission expected Russia to give a clear signal and an exact schedule for lifting the embargo, even if time-phased.

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