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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 21:45 GMT
Russia warns US over chicken ban
russian street market
Cheap US chicken is popular with Russian shoppers
Russia has warned the US that there will be no quick resolution to the row over chicken imports, as talks begin to resolve the trade dispute.

The Russian government has banned US poultry, which it says contains too many antibiotics, and also cited cases of salmonella found in recent imports.

The US says the fears are groundless, and a delegation from Washington has gone to Moscow to try to resolve the row.

Russia is the world's largest importer of American chickens, buying as much as $800m worth every year.

No quick compromise

There is speculation that the ban could be connected to Washington's decision last week to impose 30% tariffs on all steel imports, though both governments have denied this.

On Monday, Russia's deputy agriculture minister, Sergei Dankvert, said there was no chance of a quick compromise, as US veterinary experts arrived in the country for talks with their Russian counterparts.

He said: " We are not going to be able to settle this quickly as the Americans would like, because there are serious technical problems.

"It is senseless to discuss other problems until the salmonella issue is resolved," he told Russia's ORT television station.

'Bush legs'

Russia's chief veterinary inspector, Mikhail Kravchuk, insisted that the ban may not be lifted at all.

"The restrictions may be lifted promptly, very promptly or not lifted at all," he said quoted by the Interfax news agency.

"It depends on the quality of the products coming from the United States."

Cheap US imports, named "Bush legs" after then-President George Bush, flooded the market in the early 1990s and have remained popular.

But some Russian politicians are critical of the imports' impact on the domestic market, saying it has killed off domestic poultry farming.

See also:

10 Mar 02 | Europe
Russia's US chicken ban in force
18 Dec 01 | Americas
Analysis: US divisions over Russia
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