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Russia hails EU readiness for free trade zone


Moscow: Moscow has welcomed the readiness shown by the European Union (EU) to create a free trade zone between the EU and Moscow-led Customs Union in future.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton had made it clear that the free trade zone was a shared goal, though she did not mention the year 2020 by which Russia has proposed to establish it at the latest EU-Russia summit.

“She has just written that with time we would be ready to establish a free trade area, and this is a progress already, a step forward, I welcome this,” Xinhua quoted Lavrov as saying while reacting to a newspaper article by Ashton.

Meanwhile, Moscow welcomed “open and honest conversation” over the Eastern Partnership as well as energy dialogue with the EU, which he said was the cornerstone of Russia-EU strategic partnership.

Moscow, Lavrov said, supported gradual, step-by-step movement toward liberalising trade between Russia and the EU, noting that Russia and its Customs Union’s partners needed to increase the competitiveness of their goods first.