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Next round of talks on Russia-EU deal to be held in June -2


(Adds information, Russian Foreign Ministry's comment in paras 3, 6-8)

MOSCOW, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - The next round of talks on a comprehensive Russia-EU partnership deal will be held in June, Russia's EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov said on Friday.

Moscow hosted on Friday the fourth round of negotiations on a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the 27-nation bloc, set to replace the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was extended after its expiry in December 2007.

Chizhov headed the Russian delegation at the talks, while the European delegation was led by the EC director general of external relations, Eneko Landaburu.

Talks on a new deal have been repeatedly delayed, initially by Poland and Lithuania and most recently over Russia's August conflict with Georgia over South Ossetia. The talks were resumed on December 2 last year, following a decision reached at the Russia-EU summit in Nice in November.

"In the first 10 days of June the working group will meet, and in the following 10 days a plenary session of the fifth round of talks, bringing together experts to discuss the basic Russia-EU agreement, will be held," Chizhov told journalists in Moscow.

The Russia Permanent Partnership Council on Energy (PPC) will also hold a ministerial level session on April 30 in Moscow, the diplomat said.

The delegation head discussed in detail the results of previous meetings on the four areas of the future agreement: political dialogue and security cooperation; cooperation in the issues of freedom, internal security and justice; economic cooperation; cooperation in scientific research, education and culture.

"The results received a positive assessment, and, in the opinion of the delegation heads, they [results] will allow us to enter the second stage of the negotiation process - modifying the text, so that it will meet the interests of both sides," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The heads of the Russian and EU delegations will draft a report on the agreement at a Russian-EU summit to be held in Khabarovsk on May 21-22.

Chizhov said that during the talks Friday, the sides did not discuss the energy aspects of the new document.

On the issue of a recent gas transit deal between Ukraine and the EU, Chizhov said Russia "expects to be given explanations."

The EU and Ukraine signed an agreement last week on modernizing Ukraine's Soviet-era pipelines, triggering an angry reaction from Russia, which exports most of its Europe-bound gas via Ukraine. Moscow said the deal failed to take into account its interests.

Moscow has delayed inter-governmental talks with Kiev, and threatened to review energy ties with Europe if its interests are disregarded.

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