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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Putin wants EU trade row settled
Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
The meat row was among several thorny issues at the summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his government to "intensify" talks with the EU aimed at resolving a row over meat imports from Poland.

Mr Putin said a solution must be found "in the interests of both our partners and our rural residents".

Poland has been blocking the start of EU-Russia partnership talks since Moscow imposed a ban on meat imports from Poland, citing health fears.

It was one of the disputes that clouded last week's EU-Russia summit.

"I ask you to intensify this dialogue," Mr Putin told Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev on Monday.

It is necessary to depoliticise these questions
President Putin

"It is necessary to depoliticise these questions and problems must be resolved at a professional level, at the level of experts," Mr Putin said.

Russia has refused to allow meat to cross the border from Poland since 2005 - officially on food safety grounds, but the EU suspects the move is politically inspired.

Last year, Russia threatened to extend the ban to all animal products from the EU.

At last week's summit in Russia, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned Moscow that any action taken against an individual EU state would be considered action against the whole bloc.

"It is very important if you want to have close co-operation to understand that the EU is based on principles of solidarity," he said.

EU building picketed

Another source of tension at the summit was Russia's dispute with Estonia over the relocation of a Soviet war memorial in the Baltic republic's capital, Tallinn.

The pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi began a protest on Monday outside the European Commission offices in Moscow over Estonia's detention of an 18-year-old Nashi activist during last month's riots in Tallinn.

The activists said Mark Syrik's detention was unjust and they vowed to chime a bell every 15 minutes outside the commission building at least until 28 May.

Some 800 arrests were made during clashes between Estonian police and ethnic Russians angered by the authorities' removal of the bronze statue of a Soviet soldier in late April.




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