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Russia is ready to extend annualy the partnership and cooperation agreement
Russia is ready to extend annualy the partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union as talks on a new deal were blocked by Poland over a 2005 ban on Polish meat imports, a deputy foreign minister said Wednesday.

"It is not a tragedy the talks have not started. On December 1, the initial term of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement expired, but there is a provision to extend it annually if both sides agree," Alexander Grushko told journalists, adding that Russia intends to do so.

Grushko said Moscow hopes that now that the Polish meat issue has been resolved talks can begin on a new Russia-EU agreement.

In November 2005 Russia imposed a ban on Polish meat and other agricultural produce over what it called the low quality of meat and other products imported by and via Poland.

The ban proved a major source of tension between Russia and Poland, which vetoed talks on a new Russia-EU partnership and cooperation agreement in protest against the embargo.

Center-right politician Donald Tusk's victory in Polish parliamentary elections in October 2007 prompted hopes that Warsaw would take a more compromising stance in disputes with Russia, including on the meat issue.

On December 19, 2007, the two countries signed a memorandum lifting the ban on Polish meat supplies.

Grushko said Russia-EU trade turnover in 2007 could reach $270 billion. He said Russia is in the top three of the EU's leading partners. "Our significance as an EU economic partner is growing,' he said.


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