Russia, EU begin tense summit talks

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EU and Russian leaders started official summit talks on Friday to overcome a venomous row over Moscow's ban on EU vegetable imports that has opened a new rift between the two sides.

A chronic lack of progress in talks over a visa-free regime and a new cooperation agreement was expected to cast a pall over the official talks at the summit in the central Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

But after the European Union reacted with fury to Russia's ban on its vegetables in the wake of the E. coli outbreak, this week's biannual negotiations are set to be especially uncomfortable.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso met inside the historic Nizhny Novgorod fortress overlooking the Volga river.

The leaders, who arrived Thursday and held dinner talks, began their official talks at around 10:00 am (0600 GMT) and were due to hold a joint news conference at 1:20 pm (0920 GMT).

© 2011 AFP

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