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Polish President Lech Kaczynski denied on Thursday having linked Poland's
Polish President Lech Kaczynski denied on Thursday having linked Poland's veto on Russia-EU cooperation talks to the admission of ex-Soviet states into NATO.

Kaczynski was quoted as saying in an interview on Wednesday with Reuters that Warsaw would hesitate to lift its veto on negotiations on a new treaty until NATO member states in the EU allowed Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance's Membership Action Plan.

"I deny that I linked the issue of the NATO Membership Action Plan for Georgia and Ukraine with EU talks on new partnership and cooperation treaty with Russia," the president told a news conference in Helsinki.

Reuters had quoted the president as saying: "I must link these two issues, even though I would prefer not to."

The negotiations on a new treaty, to replace the one that expired in 2007, have been blocked by EU member Poland. Last year, Russia and the European Union extended the previous treaty by a year.

Poland vetoed the talks over Moscow's 2005 embargo on Polish meat. Russia said low quality meat from third countries was being imported under the cover of Polish produce. Warsaw called the ban political. Russia resumed meat imports in December 2007.

The two countries have improved relations in general since a new center-right government came to power in the former Warsaw Bloc country late last year.

At a summit in Bucharest last Thursday, NATO members decided to postpone offering Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the NATO Membership Action Plan, a key step toward full membership, but promised to review the decision in December.

Germany and France had opposed granting MAP to the former Soviet states largely over a desire not to unduly provoke a resurgent Russia.

"Only politically uninformed people could think that what happened with MAP (for Ukraine and Georgia) had nothing to do with Russia's opposition," Kaczynski told Reuters in the interview.

"We certainly should talk - we certainly should build an atmosphere in which mistrust is reduced. But whether the strategic (EU-Russia) talks can be unblocked in the near future is another matter."

"I would first like to know how the issue of MAP for Ukraine and Georgia is going to be resolved," Kaczynski was quoted as saying.

NATO's eastward expansion, as well as U.S. plans to deploy components of an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, have been a source of concern for Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference after meeting with leaders of the 26-nation alliance on the sidelines of the Bucharest summit that "The appearance on our borders of a powerful military bloc... will be considered by Russia as a direct threat to our country's security."

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