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Poland Stands by Veto Threat

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said he had made no progress in talks with his Polish counterpart, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on Warsaw dropping its veto on talks for a new cooperation agreement between the European Union and Russia.

"We had a very long discussion but were unable to reach a solution," Vanhanen said after Friday's brief, late-night discussion in the Polish capital.

Vanhanen, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, met Kaczynski in an effort to persuade Poland to drop its veto by proposing ways of resolving a dispute over meat exports and energy issues with Moscow.

Poland said it would reply soon to Vanhanen's proposals.

"The Polish side was ready to accept the Finish proposal with some corrections that would make it more realistic," said the Polish prime minister's spokesman Jan Dziedziczak.

EU leaders and President Vladimir Putin are to meet in Helsinki next Friday to discuss relations between the 25-member bloc and Moscow, including agreeing to starting talks for a new accord to replace a 1997 agreement.

In Moscow, Interfax quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday as saying Moscow would resolve the problems with Poland that are affecting its ties with the EU.

"We will settle this issue on a bilateral basis. Our experts have informed their Polish counterparts about this," Lavrov said.

(The Moscow Times 20.xi.06)

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