A draft statement due to be approved by leaders at the final session of a two-day summit welcomed the withdrawal of Russian troops from buffer zones in Georgia but fell short of saying that partnership talks could start again.
Asked when the EU would decide to resume the talks, EU foreign policy Chief Javier Solana said: "I hope very much that will be before the Nov 14," referring to a long-scheduled EU-Russia summit in
But the draft statement left the question open.
"The European Council is asking the (European) Commission and the Council (of foreign ministers) to continue a full in-depth evaluation of EU-Russia relations with a view to the forthcoming (EU-Russia) summit," said a copy of the final draft statement obtained by Reuters.
"It will be taken into account in the further negotiations for a new Partnership Agreement with
An earlier version had said talks would resume in November but EU President France failed to convince all its partners to agree to this.
EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner -- who is preparing the "audit" of EU-Russia ties -- said she expected to have it ready in time for EU foreign ministers to make a decision on the restart at a regular meeting on Nov. 10.
At issue is a military Russian presence in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and
Talks on the disputed regions broke down as soon as they began in Geneva on Wednesday and were suspended until Nov. 18 after diplomats failed to get Georgia and Russia to agree on who was allowed to take part.
Some EU capitals have suggested they want to see progress in the