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EU, Russia looking for scarce common ground at summit; Ukraine, human rights divide them

  • ff36c80ff40f34034a0f6a7067002e81.jpg

    From the left, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy pose for a photo at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders are weighing the future of their common relationship at a summit that was abridged amid stark differences over Ukraine's future and other issues. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) (The Associated Press)

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    One of two Femen activists holding a plastic machine gun, is arrested after she tried to enter the European Council building, during a protest against the visit of Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Brussels, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders are weighing the future of their common relationship at a summit that was abridged amid stark differences over Ukraine's future and other issues. (The Associated Press)

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    A Femen activist protests against the visit of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in front of the European Council building in Brussels, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders are weighing the future of their common relationship at a summit that was abridged amid stark differences over Ukraine's future and other issues. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe) (The Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders are looking for meager common ground during what promises to be a difficult summit centering on Ukraine and human rights.

Already shortened to Tuesday's 2 ½ hours instead of the usual two-day format, the summit will see Putin and EU President Herman Van Rompuy seek to bridge their differences.

Ukraine's last-minute refusal to sign up to a wide-ranging trade and cooperation deal with the EU under pressure from Moscow led to massive street protests and the current political chaos in Ukraine. The EU insists Russia has used financial incentives and undue pressure to turn Ukraine away from Europe.

Van Rompuy has also stressed the "common interest" of the two in working together to further develop trade relations.