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Learning English - Words in the News
21 May, 2004 - Published 15:27 GMT
EU-Russia summit
President Putin
President Putin

Today Moscow plays host to the first summit of Russia and the European Union since EU enlargement on May the first. On the official agenda are discussions to create a road map for cooperation in four key policy areas, dubbed the 'Common Spacer'. This report from Sarah Rainsford:

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President Putin made joining the World Trade Organisation a priority. Now his negotiators are rushing to close a deal that would finally secure the EU's support. With that, the main obstacle to Russian admission would instantly disappear.

The two sides hope to finalise the deal in time for this EU-Russia summit. If they succeed, their announcement would eclipse all other items on the agenda.

Russia is the last major economy still outside the trade block. Membership negotiations have dragged on for years. Moscow's refusal to raise its domestic gas prices has been just one of many serious sticking points. But even there, it seems negotiators are searching now for an acceptable compromise. There has been widespread speculation that if the EU dropped its objections, Russia would do a deal on the Kyoto Protocol in return.

When questioned, a highly-placed source in the Kremlin denied there would be any such announcement imminently. But, he added, good news on the question of the WTO would certainly make matters with Kyoto far simpler.

Sarah Rainsford, BBC

Listen to the words

the people talking about and making the arrangements for an agreement

close a deal
to agree on an arrangement

a problem preventing success

finalise the deal
to agree on the final details of an arrangement

a meeting between leaders of different countries to discuss important matters

to take attention from or obscure one subject with another

domestic gas prices
the price of petrol at home, in this case, Russia

serious sticking points
important reasons for not reaching an agreement

a highly-placed source
an unnamed, knowledgeable person who knows the details about the events in question

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