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    MOSCOW, February 25, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Maria Balynina) - Russian acting vice-premier and agricultural minister Alexei Gordeev does not rule out ending import of U.S. poultry meat to Russia. Taking the floor at the Federation Council (the upper chamber of Russia's parliament) on Wednesday, he said it would be a forced step.

    Cases of chicken flu have been registered in two American states, explained Gordeev. If other states follow suit, "we will have to fully end poultry imports from the United States," he said.

    The acting minister confessed that it could be "a sensitive blow" for the Russian market.

    The 2004 quota of American poultry meat shipments to Russia is 770,000 tons.

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