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Russia-EU cooperation pact talks to start later this year

 Poland's foreign minister said on Monday that negotiations on a new partnership deal between Russia and the European Union are likely to start during the first half of this year.

"I would be greatly surprised if negotiations did not begin during this half of the year," Radoslaw Sikorski said.

He said Russia's decision to lift its embargo on Polish meat deliveries "enables Poland to review its position" on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

The diplomat earlier said the issue would be discussed during Prime Minister Donald Tusk's visit to Moscow in February.

Poland has until now blocked Russia's talks with the European Union on the treaty, which expired last year, in protest against the meat embargo. Russia resumed meat imports in December.

The 2005 ban - which Moscow said was over health concerns, but Warsaw called political - was a major source of tension between the former Communist allies under the previous conservative government in Poland. Tusk, who took office in November, has moved to improve ties with Russia.

Sikorsky is currently on a working visit to Moscow to pave way for the Polish premier's upcoming visit to the Russian capital.

Other issues that have strained bilateral relations include Russia's objections to Washington's plans to deploy anti-missile defenses in Poland, and Warsaw's concerns over a Russian-German project to build a pipeline under the Baltic Sea bypassing Poland.

RIA Novosti


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