Russia's prime minister says he thinks the dispute with the United States over imported chicken can be resolved soon. His comments come amid ongoing efforts by U.S. officials to overturn a total ban on imports of U.S. chicken into Russia.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said he thinks a solution to the chicken issue should be found within the next month.
Teams of U.S. and Russian veterinary officials have been holding meetings for the past two weeks, since Russia imposed a total ban on imported American chicken due to health concerns.
The Russians said they found salmonella bacteria in various batches of U.S. chicken and are worried about what they call the overuse of antibiotics on U.S. poultry farms.
Mr. Kasyanov told reporters that Russia has identified farms where the tainted chicken came from and wants those removed from the list of suppliers.
U.S. officials have consistently said the health concerns are exaggerated, and the U.S. veterinarians have tried to clarify the issues raised by Russia.
Some analysts have said Russia's position may partly result from President George W. Bush's recent decision to raise tariffs on imported steel by as much as 30 percent.
That move angered many countries, including Russia where steelmakers stand to lose a substantial part of their business.
However, government officials on both sides have sought to play down any tit-for-tat action linking the two trade disputes.
American chicken and other poultry products account for a large share of the Russian market. Russians have long said they prefer the U.S. variety because domestic chickens tend to be lean and scrawny and cost about 30 percent more.
Some Russian vets say the U.S. birds are larger because American farmers inject the chickens with antibiotics.
The issue is critical for American farmers because close to half of their chicken and feed meal exports go to Russia.