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WARSAW: The governments of Poland and Ukraine meet in Warsaw on Thursday for talks they hope will help defuse a row over grain imports that has caused mass protests by farmers, but a top Polish official said a breakthrough was unlikely.

Farmers in Poland and elsewhere in the European Union have been protesting to demand the re-imposition of customs duties on agricultural imports from Ukraine that were waived after Russia’s invasion in 2022.

They say Ukraine’s farmers are flooding Europe with cheap imports that leave them unable to compete.

“It is difficult to expect any breakthrough after these talks, any specific agreement, for example on agricultural issues,” the head of the prime minister’s office Jan Grabiec told state news agency PAP. “We are still in dialogue and both sides - at least for today - are not fully satisfied.”

Poland has been eyeing a licensing deal for agricultural trade with Ukraine similar to one agreed with Kyiv by Romania and Bulgaria. On Wednesday Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski said talks were ongoing about a system of licensing exports, but that there were differences over the range of products that would be covered.

Grabiec said almost the entire Ukrainian government would be represented at the talks, which Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Szejna told public radio would also cover cooperation between the countries’ arms industries, cultural issues and energy.

Ambassadors from European Union countries reached a revised deal on Wednesday to extend tariff-free food imports from Ukraine - with restrictions - after some states, including Poland, complained the original agreement risked destabilising the bloc’s agricultural markets. An EU diplomat said the new deal - which would run until June 2025 - was similar to a provisional agreement struck last week but changed the reference period used to determine when tariffs on some products would be applied.

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