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Russia, EU Near Enlargement Solution

22 April 2004 -- Russia and the European Union have reportedly reached an agreement on settling disputes stemming from EU plans to expand into Eastern Europe.

European Commission President Romano Prodi is scheduled to visit Moscow later today to finalize the purported agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at which time further details of the agreement should be made public.

The Russian government has expressed concerns about the expansion's impact on trade with its former communist partners because of a change in the duty laws and the travel rights of Russian citizens, particularly those living in the Kaliningrad enclave.

Ten states -- including eight postcommunist countries -- are slated for accession to the EU on 1 May.

The new deal could also help Russia gain entry into the World Trade Organization.

Russian Trade and Economic Development Minister German Gref said today that the new agreement satisfies both sides.