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21 May 2004 -- Russian and European Union officials are meeting in Moscow today, with talks focused on Russia's potential membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the start of the talks that Russia and the EU should be equal partners, and he said they are capable of finding a compromise even on complicated issues.

"I am convinced that in our dialogue there should not be someone who leads and someone who follows. We are capable of finding a compromise on issues that may seem quite contentious at first glance," Putin said.

Russian and EU trade officials have said they hope to sign an agreement on Russia's entry into the WTO during today's summit.

The summit is the first between Russia and the EU since the bloc expanded toward Russia on 1 May by adding 10 members.

Russia still needs to sign deals with the United States and some other WTO members, but the EU is its biggest trading partner.

(Reuters/AFP/TASS)
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