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    Russia-EU PCA off Samara summit agenda - German FM

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    Talks on a new basic partnership agreement will not be up for discussion at the Russia-EU May 17-18 summit in Samara, Germany's foreign minister said Monday.

    BRUSSELS, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Talks on a new basic partnership agreement will not be up for discussion at the Russia-EU May 17-18 summit in Samara, Germany's foreign minister said Monday.

    Negotiations on a new deal between Russia and the European Union to replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which expires in December, cannot go ahead until EU member Poland lifts its veto on the talks, imposed ahead of the Russia-EU summit in Helsinki last November.

    "Despite my willingness and intentions we will not be able to start talks on the new agreement," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. Germany currently chairs the EU.

    Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski told a news conference earlier in the day that his country would keep its veto on a new PCA until Moscow lifts its 2005 ban on Polish meat imports.

    The European Commission, the EU executive body, said last week it had received a letter from the Russian agriculture minister reiterating Moscow's refusal to lift the meat ban, which Russia imposed claiming the meat was re-exported from third countries in breach of sanitary regulations.

    "The veto remains in place. Russia has not lifted its sanctions and we maintain the veto," Kaczynski said.

    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.

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