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US, Russia at Impasse Over Chicken

March 20, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration has made little progress toward getting Russia to drop a ban on imports of American chicken, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Tuesday.

``They’re just at an impasse right now,″ she said, referring to talks that have been going on in Moscow between U.S. and Russian officials.

Chicken is the top American export to Russia, bringing in $600 million to $700 million a year to producers in 38 states.

Russia has raised a variety of concerns with U.S. poultry, including the presence of salmonella, a common bacteria, the use of antibiotics in growing chickens and the use of chlorine to kill bacteria on carcasses in slaughter plants. Russian negotiators have been pushing for the right to inspect U.S. plants.

Russian media have drawn a connection between the poultry ban and U.S. tariffs on steel, a major Russian export.

U.S. officials say the Russian ban, imposed March 10, is unjustified.

``This is something that is taking a lot of attention of a lot of people at very high levels of government,″ Veneman said. ``We’re really engaged on this issue and we’re really disappointed that despite what we thought were talks that were progressing toward a successful conclusion, we don’t see that coming.″

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