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Russia: Yeltsin Meets EU Leaders To Boost Cooperation

Moscow, 3 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin and European Union leaders met today in Moscow to give a new boost to ties between Russia and the European Union (EU).

Yeltsin's press service said the Russian president told European Commission President Jacques Santer and Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok -- whose country holds the rotating EU presidency -- that Russia will continue its democratic and economic reforms.

Interfax news agency quoted Santer as assuring Yeltsin that relations between the EU and Russia will advance dynamically.

At the start of today's meeting Yeltsin expressed satisfaction at what he called the permanent political and economic dialogue between the EU and Moscow.

EU officials hope to hammer out the final details of a long-delayed cooperation agreement with Moscow. The agreement, first signed in June 1994, has yet to come fully into force. A less comprehensive, interim trade agreement has been in place for a year.

Interfax said that among the issues discussed today were NATO and EU enlargement. According to the agency, Yeltsin repeated Russia's opposition to NATO's planned eastward enlargement. Other issues discussed were Russia's application to join the World Trade Organization. EU officials said Brussels is supportive of bringing Russia into the WTO, but that this can only happen if Russia cuts state subsidies and establishes clear economic rules.