Poland to drop veto on Russia OECD talks - PM

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WARSAW, Nov 27 (Reuters) Poland's new government will stop blocking Russia's efforts to join the OECD, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said today, in an apparent attempt to improve strained relations between the neighbouring countries.

Tusk said the move should help Russia conclude talks with its Western trading partners ahead of its World Trade Organisation (WTO) entry.

''We have informed the Russian side about withdrawing our blockade on talks about Russian membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),'' Tusk told a news conference.

''I hope this decision would speed up talks and actions towards improving our (mutual) relations.'' Later, Polish President Lech Kaczynski's office said it was concerned about Tusk's statement, highlighting the fact it was not consulted on the issue.

''The President's Chancellery is highly surprised by Donald Tusk's declaration of a change in Poland's stand on Russia's OECD entry,'' the statement read.

According to the Polish constitution the president has a right to represent the country in foreign relations. Kaczynski played a key role in shaping foreign policy under the former conservative government of his twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Earlier this year, the OECD invited Russia and several other countries for talks on joining the organisation, which at the moment has 30 members, most of them industrialised market democracies.

Poland had been blocking OECD entry talks for Russia on the grounds that it has not yet become a WTO member. Tusk said the OECD had urged Poland to be more accommodating.

The change of tune from Tusk says more about his efforts to repair ties with Moscow than Russia's OECD membership prospects, since WTO membership is generally considered a prerequisite for joining the OECD.

Tusk's Civic Platform party won last month's parliamentary election on promises of a more cooperative foreign policy than that of Jaroslaw Kaczynski's government.

Poland's ties with Moscow took a dive under the Kaczynskis in disputes over history, Polish agriculture products exports to Russia and Warsaw's plans to host US anti-missile defences.

Reuters AK VP0040

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