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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Poles and Russia try to mend ties
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov
Mr Lavrov's talks will cover Polish-US defence plans and trade
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Poland on a one-day visit aimed at improving relations between the two countries.

Mr Lavrov will meet Polish President Lech Kaczynski, and his twin brother Jaroslaw, the prime minister, as well as Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga.

It is the Russian foreign minister's first visit in more than two years.

That is considered a clear signal of just how bad relations between Russia and the former Soviet bloc country are.

President Kaczynski said recently that ties were at the beginning of the road to improvement.

But there are a lot of sizeable obstacles along that road.

Warsaw wants Moscow to lift its ban on Polish meat products.

It is also unhappy at the Kremlin's decision to build a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea which bypasses Poland.

Moscow wary

Another issue of contention is the United States missile defence shield.

Washington has already located its missiles on home soil and it would like Poland to host its European base.

American officials say any warheads would be used to knock out intercontinental-range missiles aimed at the US by rogue states, and would not be directed against Russia.

But Moscow is wary of the scheme. Earlier this week the Russian foreign ministry said if Poland were to host such a base, it would consider taking corresponding measures.

Poland's leaders have said they will seek to reassure Mr Lavrov on that point.

The minister's visit may also be used to pave the way for a meeting between the Russian and Polish presidents.

But relations between the two countries are so poor, officials have been discussing holding such a meeting in a neutral country.


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