EU, Russia agree to address human rights, energy investment disputes

Disputes over energy investment and human rights hung over a Russia-EU summit Friday where the two sides agreed they would try to address their differences in new talks on a stalled cooperation agreement. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the EU representatives said they would start talks next week in Brussels on a wide-ranging Russia-EU cooperation deal. "The future agreement will be an instrument to draw Russia and the European Union closer," Medvedev said after the talks in the Siberian oil boomtown of Khanty-Mansiisk. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hailed a "sincere and open" atmosphere at the talks and said that the new agreement should "open a new chapter in our relations." The existing 10-year agreement signed in 1997 has automatically renewed pending the delays on reaching a new one, but the old deal has lost much of its meaning thanks to Russia's new oil and gas wealth and more assertive foreign policy stance.