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    Russia, EU set to finalize meat exports deal in Berlin

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    Russia and the European Union will sign Friday an additional document to a memorandum on the safety of meat products, to ensure continued meat exports from the EU, Russia's food safety watchdog said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the European Union will sign Friday an additional document to a memorandum on the safety of meat products, to ensure continued meat exports from the EU, Russia's food safety watchdog said Wednesday.

    The new document is expected to be signed during the Green Week 2007 agricultural tradeshow, opening in the German capital on January 18. Meat sales have become a stumbling block in relations between Moscow and the 27-nation bloc, with Russia's year-long ban on meat from EU-member Poland.

    "We will sign an addendum to the Memorandum on veterinary certificates for meat products, which was signed by Russia and the EU in September 2004," said Alexei Alekseyenko, a spokesman for the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection (Rosselkhoznadzor).

    "This addendum must guarantee that the EU will not export produce to Russia that is not permitted for sale on European markets," Alekseyenko said.

    Moscow has accused Poland of re-exporting products of third countries to Russia, while insisting that it has no claims against Polish meat.

    The Russian food safety official said Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev will meet with top EU agriculture and health care officials during the tradeshow to discuss continuing supplies of meat products from the EU to Russia, which have also recently been threatened by concerns over meat exported from Romania and Bulgaria, who joined the EU on January 1.

    Alekseyenko also said the draft addendum stipulates that produce posing a health risk should not be exported to Russia either from the two EU newcomers, or from other EU members.

    Moscow banned meat supplies from Poland in late 2005. In November 2006 Warsaw vetoed the start of talks on a new Russia-EU cooperation agreement, in protest against the embargo.

    Experts from the European Commission, Russia, and Poland will meet later Wednesday to discuss technicalities relating to Warsaw's measures to end violations of veterinary regulations.

    Alekseyenko said Russian authorities have blocked numerous attempts to export banned agricultural products supplied under falsified health safety certificates through third countries.

    "We have intercepted large shipments of buffalo meat from India and pork from China on the border with Poland," Alekseyenko said, adding that the fight against falsified veterinary documents and fraud in meat exports should be common concern of all interested parties.

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