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EU states blow hot and cold on new Russia pact

EU states blow hot and cold on new Russia pact
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The European Union’s foreign ministers have been debating how to go about relaunching partnership talks with Russia. France, Germany and Italy are in favour of moving ahead quickly.

The negotiations, which encompass a broad range of subjects, were frozen after the Russia-Georgia conflict.

The extent of Moscow’s compliance with ceasefire agreements is a major question. Some EU capitals would like to see a decision on the partnership relaunch made before this Wednesday’s EU summit in Brussels. But Britain, Sweden and some ex-communist states are cautioning against moving too hastily.

Before the meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that although he had seen personally that Russia had withdrawn its troops from Georgian territory outside separatist areas, not all the points of the French EU-brokered peace plan had been fulfilled. He did not say if enough conditions had been met to allow the partnership talks to resume.

A first round of discussions between Georgia and Russia begins this Wednesday in Geneva.

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