Russia-EU cooperation pact talks likely in November

October 28th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Oct 28 (RIA Novosti) The European Union (EU) could resume in November talks with Russia on a new cooperation pact, put on hold last month over Russia’s military operation in Georgia, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said. The 27-nation bloc announced Sep 1 that it had suspended talks on a partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia over Moscow’s presence in Georgia and would not resume the negotiation process until the country pulled all its troops in Georgia back to their pre-conflict positions.

Although Moscow completed its troop pullout from a buffer zone in Georgia earlier this month, questions remain over the scale of its presence in South Ossetia.

Furthermore, some EU member-states said they wanted to see progress in talks on the future of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - recognized by Russia as independent states - before discussing relations with Moscow.

The issue of the disputed Georgian republics will be discussed at the international talks in Geneva Nov 18.

Kouchner said in an interview with the Kommersant business daily that restoring ties between Russia and the EU was not a “two-day issue,” although he added that the talks on the long overdue strategic cooperation agreement could still resume at a Russia-EU summit in Nice scheduled for Nov 14.

Moscow had on the whole complied with all the international commitments under the French-brokered peace plan to end the conflict in Georgia, although “a few disputable points remain”, the french minister said.

The first round of talks on a new wide-ranging deal between Russia and the EU was held in July. The agreement is set to replace the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was extended for a year when it expired in December 2007.

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