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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 17:13 GMT
Russia to lift ban on Polish meat
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

Beef
The breakthrough came after agriculture ministers met in Moscow
Russia has agreed to lift a two-year-old ban on Polish meat imports that it imposed on health grounds.

Russia's agriculture minister said an agreement would be signed next week. An embargo on poultry imports will remain until an outbreak of bird flu is over.

The Polish government always maintained the ban was politically motivated.

The dispute not only strained relations between the two countries but prevented the start of talks on a new partnership agreement between the EU and Russia.

The breakthrough was announced following a meeting in Moscow between Russian agriculture minister Alexei Gordeyev and his Polish counterpart, Marek Sawicki.

It had been expected.

Thawing relations

Since taking office last month, Poland's new Prime Minister Donald Tusk has been working to improve his country's strained relations with Russia.

First, Poland said it would no longer oppose Russia's application to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development, a grouping of the world's most industrialised nations.

Then Mr Tusk said his government would be willing to listen to Moscow's concerns about the missile defence shield Washington wants to build in Poland.

The lifting of the meat ban could also have implications for the rest of the European Union.

Poland has been unilaterally blocking the start of talks on a new partnership deal between the EU and Russia.

In the past, Warsaw has said it would consider dropping its objections if the meat ban was lifted.

SEE ALSO
Poland to overhaul ties with EU
03 Dec 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Poland
24 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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