3 Rounds of Talks Before EU Summit

Negotiators hammering out a new partnership agreement will hold three rounds of talks before the next EU-Russia summit in November in France, diplomats said Monday.

They will prepare a joint progress report for the summit, scheduled to take place in Nice on Nov. 14, said Marc Franco, head of the European Commission's delegation to Russia.

Franco said the first round of talks, which kicked off in Brussels on Friday, had been aided by "the change in style and accent" of the Russian side since President Dmitry Medvedev assumed power in May. "Because of the difference of style and presentation and emphasis'' between Medvedev and his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, "the dialogue has become more easy,'' Franco said.

The second round of talks will be held in Brussels in late September, while the third round will be in Moscow, he said, without providing specific dates.

Franco was speaking at a joint news conference with French Ambassador Stanislas de Laboulaye. France took over the EU's rotating presidency from Slovenia on July 1.

De Laboulaye said it was unlikely that negotiations would be finished this year.