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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Says It Will Solve Meat Issues

LIMASSOL, Cyprus -- The European Union will respond by the end of March to Russian concerns over Polish meat quality and the threat of a wider trade standoff between Moscow and the bloc, EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said Saturday.

Moscow banned Polish meat and plant products more than a year ago on health grounds. The EU has said it believes the ban is disproportionate, and Poland says that it is politically motivated.

"We are still in the middle of technical discussions but I am optimistic that we are in a position to offer explanations which will convince the Russian side to lift the ban," Kyprianou said on the sidelines of a conference in Cyprus.

The dispute between Russia and Poland over meat imports is delaying talks on a new partnership pact between Moscow and the EU.

Russia has also raised concerns over EU meat quality guidelines and maximum residue levels of pesticides in plant products. Russia has submitted its concerns in writing, Kyprianou said. "We believe we can provide our replies by the end of the coming week," he said.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said Thursday that the dispute over meat imports could delay Moscow's accession to the World Trade Organization. Mandelson was due to arrive in Moscow on Sunday for talks on this and other outstanding trade issues between the two parties, his spokesman said.

Reuters, MT