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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EC Deal Could Stall, Officials Say

President Boris Yeltsin might not be able to initial a key treaty on partnership and cooperation with the EC during his Dec. 8-10 visit to Brussels because of disagreements on trade issues, EC officials said Friday.

"It cannot be said as of today whether the draft will be finalized before the visit of President Yeltsin", said Hansjorg Kretschmer, deputy head of the EC delegation in Moscow. "We are very close to the end of the negotiations".

EC President Jacques Delors said earlier this month that the partnership deal had to be initialed by both sides before Yeltsin's visit to Brussels as a show of support for Russia's democratic reforms before the elections.

Kretschmer said that all the main points in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement had been resolved but some technical disagreements remained in the drafting of clauses in the area of trade in goods and services.

"There were very substantial difficulties which were resolved", he said. "All countries are defending their economic interests".

A key issue in the agreement has been the EC's ability to introduce trade sanctions against Russian exports. The EC has opposed Russian exports of goods from fish to uranium and recently extended quota restrictions on aluminum exports.

The EC has also criticized a recent Russian decision to limit the role of foreign banks in Russia.

According to Catherine Magnant, the EC delegation's press and information officer, the agreement would provide for high-level political dialogue, establish rules for technical and economic cooperation and solve questions regarding mutual access of goods, services, capital and labor.

Magnant said that negotiators will work through Dec. 7 to finalize the agreement. "The first objective remains to initial the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement", she said. "If it's not done in Brussels, a solution will be found".