Syria, trade in focus at Putin's summit with EU

June 3, 2012 16:14

ST PETERSBURG, Russia - The European Union will try to shift Russian President Vladimir Putin's stance on Syria and explore his commitment to closer ties at a summit the wary neighbors say is unlikely to produce big breakthroughs.

Putin is hosting EU leaders for dinner on Sunday and talks on Monday at a lavish estate on the outskirts of his hometown of St. Petersburg, the first Russia-EU summit since his return to the presidency on May 7.

European diplomats called the meeting a chance to get reacquainted with Putin, who is formally back at the forefront of foreign policy.

But the crisis in Syria, where Moscow has blunted Western efforts to condemn President Bashar Assad, may sour the mood and overshadow talks on trade and other issues.

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