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EU-Russia Hail 'Constructive' Summit Talks


Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders haved hailed as "constructive," Friday's Summit in the town of Mafra, outside Lisbon.

No major breakthroughs were reported on key issues, such as the future status of Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province or Iran's nuclear program.

But European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso did express confidence that Russia will soon enter the World Trade Organization.

Mr. Putin also expressed hope for an agreement on a new European Union-Russian partnership accord.

EU-member Poland is blocking talks on the agreement in response to a Russian ban on imports of Polish meat. But a Russian spokesman, Sergei Yastrszhembsky, later said Poland had agreed to accept Russian inspectors at its meat-processing facilities in a move that could lead Russia to lift its ban.

During the last EU-Russia summit, earlier this year, President Putin and EU leaders were at considerable odds over the state of democracy in Russia.

Friday, Mr. Putin unveiled a proposal for a joint Russian-European Union institute to monitor observance of human rights in Europe.

The Russian president has often criticized Western governments of using rights as a pretext to try to interfere in Russia's internal affairs.

EU governments and human rights groups accuse Mr. Putin's government of efforts to limit democracy and restrict freedom of speech.

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