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Russia to 'clarify' vegetable ban before EU summit

Map of Europe Highlighting EU States
MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow hopes that the issue of the vegetable import ban will be settled before the Russia-EU summit on June 9-10, Russia's EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov said on Monday.

A virus broke out in Germany's second largest city of Hamburg around three weeks ago and has infected over 2,200 people.

Russia suspended fruit and vegetable imports from the European Union on Thursday, a move that sparked criticism from EU officials for going against the policies of the World Trade Organization.

Russia also accused Brussels of failing to provide sufficient information about the source of the infection.

"I hope that within the few days before the summit the issue will be clarified," Chizhov said.

He said the effect from the ban on Russia-EU relations should not be exaggerated.

"The reaction from EU representatives about the disproportionate nature of the Russian measures looks strange and inexplicable," he said.

"We understand that EU farmers are sustaining serious losses but no financial losses are comparable to a human life."

The European Commission said the measure was "disproportionate" and the EU's envoy in Moscow, Fernando Valenzuela, said the ban was unjustified and contradicted the rules of World Trade Organization.

EU agriculture ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss the E. coli outbreak that has killed 22 people, an EU official said on Monday.

Reports earlier on Monday traced the virus to bean sprouts grown on a farm in Germany's Lower Saxony region, some 70 km (40 miles) south of Hamburg.

Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann said on Sunday there was a "very clear trail" leading to a small farm near Uelzen in Lower Saxony that supplied various types of sprouts to restaurants and retailers.

Several hundred infected Europeans have developed hemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a severe illness that can lead to kidney disease, coma and death.

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