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EU Says Polish Meat Dispute Threatens Russia Summit

Benita Ferrero-Waldner (file photo) (official site) April 23, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, has warned that Moscow's ban on Polish farm products could sour next month's EU-Russia summit.

The EU-Russia summit is set for May 18 in the central Russian city of Samara.

Speaking before an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg today, Ferrero-Waldner said she is "disappointed" that Russia has failed to lift the ban.

"The last moment [to lift the ban] would be the summit -- I mean, at the very moment of the summit," she said. "This would be the last moment, of course -- and this is the 18th of May -- not to launch [talks on a new partnership agreement], but to get this meat question [resolved] in order to have a successful summit."

Russia accuses Poland of lax and unsafe practices over food-safety standards. Warsaw says the ban is politically motivated.

Poland has said it will continue blocking talks on a new EU-Russia strategic partnrship accord as long as the Russian ban remains in place.