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    Putin to discuss new Russia-EU deal, WTO entry in Brussels

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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will discuss a new Russia-EU partnership agreement and Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Brussels on Wednesday, a government spokesman said.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will discuss a new Russia-EU partnership agreement and Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Brussels on Wednesday, a government spokesman said.

    During his two-day visit, Putin is expected to have talks with a dozen senior EU officials, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman van Rompuy.

    "The [talks] will focus on a new Russia-EU partnership agreement, Russia's accession to the WTO and important projects in trade, economic and energy cooperation," the spokesman said.

    The European Union is expecting fruitful discussions with Putin, EU Moscow envoy Fernando Valenzuela said last week, marking a "substantial positive improvement" in the 27-member bloc's relations with Russia.

    However, Russia's EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov said on Monday the discussion between Putin and his European partners could be possibly "unpleasant."

    Chizhov also said talks on the new partnership agreement will not be completed until Moscow gains membership of the 153-nation global trade body.

    The previous Russia-EU agreement expired in late 2007, but was automatically extended. Further negotiations were stalled over disagreements with Poland and then Lithuania in 2007-08. The Russian-Georgian war in August 2008 led EU leaders to freeze talks, which were resumed in December that year.

    The Russian government is still holding talks with 12 WTO countries on the supplies of meat products to the Russian market. Chief negotiator Maxim Medvedkov said earlier that talks could be completed in May-June 2011.

    Another important issue for discussion on Wednesday will be energy cooperation between Russia and the European Union.

    Alexei Miller, who heads Russia's energy monopoly Gazprom, said on Monday Russia and the EU could sign a "road map" of natural gas supplies until 2050.

    Miller also said Gazprom will seek "clarifications" over the EU's 'third package' aimed at liberalizing energy market, which will come into force in EU member states in March.

    Gazprom, which supplies Europe with a quarter of its gas and also extracts and transports it, strongly opposes the package, saying it will deprive the gas transportation system of investment.

     

    MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti)

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