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Poland Rejects EU Compromise in Dispute With Russia

Poland has rejected European Union appeals to stop blocking talks on a new wide-ranging EU-Russian partnership agreement.

Diplomats from Finland, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Poland rejected a compromise Wednesday after hours of talks. They say they will try again Thursday.

All 25 European Union members must back the union's position in the talks before they can proceed. The partnership deal would cover trade, investment, energy, and human rights. It would also give Europe access to Russia's vast energy reserves.

Poland is demanding Russia lift its ban on imported Polish meat and other agricultural products. Russia imposed the ban last year, claiming the foods were not safe.

Russia has warned the European Union it might ban imports of EU animal products beginning January first unless it can guarantee the safety of products from two incoming EU members, Bulgaria and Romania.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to join EU leaders at an economic summit in Helsinki Friday.

Mr. Putin says the European Union has nothing to fear from Moscow as the summit nears. Writing Wednesday in the Financial Times newspaper, Mr. Putin called Russia a natural member of the European family, "in spirit, history and culture."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.