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EU says it sent full replies to Russia to end meat import ban on Poland

The European Union sent „comprehensive” information to Russian authorities in an attempt to end a standoff over Moscow's refusal to lift a meat and plant product ban of Polish goods, officials said Friday.

EU spokesman Philip Tod told reporters the 27-nation bloc is keen to negotiate an end to the Russian ban, adding that EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou was planning to meet Russia's agriculture minister Alexei Gordeyev in mid-April to discuss the impasse. Russia has barred meat imports from Poland since late 2005, citing health concerns. The unresolved dispute led Warsaw to veto the start of talks on a new EU-Russia partnership agreement that aims to forge closer energy ties between the two sides. „We consider that time is of the essence, and that we are at their disposal to discuss any of the technical issues that have arisen in our exchange of information,” Tod said. The European Commission said Friday it had sent Moscow „comprehensive replies” to questions raised by Russian experts after their recent inspections in Poland.

Russian authorities had demanded the EU provide specific information on how the bloc will monitor meat hygiene in 2007. The Commission said it was „convinced all the questions raised by Russia have been addressed in a way which should enable the lifting of the Russian ban.” (iht.com)