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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Urges Russia to Cancel Meat Ban Ahead of Summit

BRUSSELS -- The European Union on Wednesday urged Russia to commit to lifting its ban on Polish meat so that negotiations for a new strategic partnership agreement could begin at an upcoming EU-Russia summit.

The call came as some EU parliament members demanded the meeting, planned for May 18, be postponed because of Russia's continuing human rights violations and pro-Kremlin youth groups' blockade of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow for several days in protest of a decision to remove a Soviet war memorial from the center of Estonia's capital.

The EU and Russia are to discuss their economic relations, energy cooperation, climate change, and the situations in Kosovo, Iran and the Middle East at the summit near Samara.

Poland is blocking talks on the new EU-Russia partnership accord aimed at forging closer energy ties because of Russia's ban on Polish meat and plant products, which Moscow has maintained since late 2005 because of alleged health concerns.

"Following countless talks ... I think the time has come for Russia to give a date when the embargo will be lifted," German Deputy Foreign Minister G?nther Gloser, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told the European Parliament. "The opening of negotiations on a new partnership agreement ... shouldn't fail on a technicality."

But many legislators were critical of the EU's leniency toward Russia over its threats of economic consequences against Estonia and its recent disputes with other EU nations, including Poland and the Czech Republic.

"The Russians need a clear signal: Enough is enough. Here's a direct proposal: Postpone the summit," said Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament.