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27 Jun, 2008 00:21

Russia and EU to launch partnership talks

Energy issues are likely to take centre stage in Khanty-Mansiysk in Siberia as Russian and European leaders get together for a two-day summit. They're also expected to kick-start negotiations on a new partnership and a cooperation agreement between Russia

This new agreement presents an opportunity to update the legal framework of the EU-Russia relationship as the first Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in the early 1990s no longer corresponds to the current economic and political situation.

“Russia is one of main partners of the EU, while the proportion of Russia's trade with the EU is 53 per cent. We are interested in Russian capital going to the EU, as the European Union is one of priority partners in the investment sphere,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko  ahead of the summit.

Other pressing global problems such as instability of the world financial system and the food crisis will also be discussed.

Russia also plans to raise the sensitive issue of Russians living in the Baltic States, as well as the issue of visas.

European security cooperation will also be on the agenda.

It will be the first EU summit for the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev. On Thursday evening he hosted the leadership of the European Union at a working lunch, but the main meeting will be held on Friday, following which the sides are expected to make a statement on the launch of the negotiating process.