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EU-Russia summit to talk energy, WTO on May 21-22

  The next EU-Russia summit will be held on May 21-22, with energy security and Russian WTO accession the main topics, Czech envoy to Russia Miroslav Kostelka, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said on Tuesday.

The last EU-Russia summit was held in the French city of Nice last November, before Moscow’s gas supply conflict with Ukraine in January drove a rift between Russia and Europe over energy security.

A preliminary meeting will be held at the ministerial level this month, followed by human rights consultations in March and the high-level summit in May, Kostelka said. Kostelka said among the priorities of the Czech presidency would be discussion of a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Marc Franco, the head of the European Commission in Russia, said trade talks had stalled in recent months on the issue of lumber export tariffs, again blocking Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Russia has sought to join the trade body for more than a decade and is the world’s largest economy to remain outside the WTO mechanisms. “We have not made any progress to remove this (lumber tariffs) from the agenda,” Franco told the briefing. “If Russia is not in the WTO, it will be very hard to have a meaningful discussion with Russia on trade.” (Reuters)