Moscow agrees to lift ban on EU vegetables
Russia has agreed to lift its import ban on EU vegetables imposed in the wake of the E. coli outbreak, Russian and EU leaders said on Friday after two days of talks.
"We are happy that we agreed that the ban on European vegetables will be lifted," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said at a joint news conference with President Dmitry Medvedev in the central Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Without giving a specific time frame for the lifting of the ban, he said that the European Union would send certificates to Russia within the next two days to get the procedure underway.
Medvedev confirmed Russia's willingness to lift the ban, saying sanitary experts from the two sides would have to shortly agree on subsequent moves.
"We discussed a mechanism of resuming supplies of European vegetables to the Russian market," Medvedev said.
"We are ready to resume such supplies against guarantees from competent services of the European Union. This is absolutely certain."
Specialists from Russia and the EU will in the near future have to agree on the certificates that will confirm that vegetables headed for Russia are safe, he added.
Russia's chief doctor Gennady Onishchenko, head of the consumer protection watchdog that imposed the ban, declined to confirm that the ban would be lifted within the next two days.
"The ball is in their (the EU) court so everything will depend on how hard they try," he told reporters afterwards.
Russia last week imposed a blanket ban on imports to prevent the spread of the E. coli bacteria that has left at least 30 dead and some 3,000 sick.
© 2011 AFP