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    Russia, EU set first round of cooperation pact talks for July 4

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    Russia and the European Union have announced in a joint statement the start of talks on a new cooperation agreement as an EU-Russia summit ended in Western Siberia.

    KHANTY-MANSIISK, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the European Union have announced in a joint statement the start of talks on a new cooperation agreement as an EU-Russia summit ended in Western Siberia.

    "The first round of talks will be take place in Brussels, on July 4," the statement read.

    The two-day EU-Russia summit in Khanty-Mansiisk was the first since Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's landslide election victory in March.

    The statement said the talks would be aimed at concluding a strategic agreement that will serve as the basis for Russia-EU relations.

    The new long-term strategic Russia-EU agreement is set to replace the current 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which expired in December 2007 and was extended by a year. Russia and the EU earlier said they hoped to reach a new deal by the end of 2008. The old agreement will remain in force until replaced by a new one.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a press conference after the summit that the new agreement should become the basis of a long-term strategic partnership.

    "The future agreement is an instrument for the coming together of Russia and the EU. It should be built upon the principles of equality, pragmatism, respect for both sides' interests, and a mutual approach to key security problems," said Medvedev, adding that he hoped the agreement would become the "basis of long term Russia-EU strategic partnership."

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