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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ahead of Summit, Russians Stick to Meat Ban for Poland

BRUSSELS -- Russia has sent the European Union an unsatisfactory reply making no concessions toward ending a ban on meat imports from Poland, EU diplomats said Friday, a week before a key EU-Russia summit near Samara.

The trade dispute is holding up talks on a new strategic partnership pact between Moscow and the 27-nation bloc covering cooperation on energy, trade, human rights and foreign policy.

"The reply from Russia is nowhere near enough," said one diplomat of a letter from Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev received by the European Commission on Thursday.

"The letter restates the Russian position as expressed at the meeting in Cyprus," a commission spokesman said of a meeting last month between EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Gordeyev that failed to end the ban on Polish meat.

"The commission will give its response in due course."

The EU has urged Moscow to set a date by next week's summit for ending the embargo, which prompted Poland to block the opening of talks on a new partnership.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged Russia and EU nations to work at improving their tense relations ahead of the summit, an interview published Sunday said.

Asked about his expectations for the meeting, Solana was quoted as telling Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper: "I expect the heated temperature between Russia and the EU to cool off a bit."

"I think that is possible," Solana said, cited in the report. "Both sides should do something for this -- Russia and the EU member states must work on reducing the tensions. A strengthened relationship with Russia is good for everyone." Reuters, AP