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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Says Russia Is Softening Its Stance on Meat

Russia has softened its stance in a standoff with the European Union over its ban on Polish meat imports and is looking for a face-saving way to end the 17-month feud, Western diplomats said.

The dispute has soured relations with Russia because Poland, angered by the ban, has vetoed negotiations on a new strategic partnership treaty between Russia and the EU.

A spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry's Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision, Alexei Alexeyenko, said Moscow's position was unchanged.

"Our position has not changed. We are ready for a constructive dialogue," Alexeyenko said.

But Western diplomats have said that Russia's line mellowed after a Russia-EU summit last month at which EU leaders made clear they were backing Poland.

"The Russians don't want to attract too much attention to this, but they're looking for a way to end the dispute," one diplomat said.

The diplomat said a solution could be reached soon at a technical level, when Russian officials travel to Brussels for talks on the meat ban with European Commission officials.

Another diplomat said Russia's desire for a way out had been made clear at a meeting this week with a senior Russian foreign policy official.

"It was made clear that Russia wants to end the Polish meat ban as soon as possible," said the diplomat.