EU delivers collective reply to Russian security proposals

FILE PHOTO: EU flags flutter in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
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MOSCOW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union said on Thursday it had delivered a single letter in response to Russia's proposals to member states on European security on behalf of the 27 foreign ministers of the bloc.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier on Thursday said a collective response from the EU to his correspondence to all 27 EU states at the end of January would lead to a breakdown in talks.

EU diplomats told Reuters the letters sent by Lavrov were seen as a way to divide the 27-nation bloc, which has differing sympathies towards Moscow, as it considers economic sanctions on Russia in the case of a new Ukraine conflict.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell decided to reply on behalf of all states to show unity.

"The member states of the European Union agreed that the high representative should reply to the message by minister Lavrov in the name of 27," a Commission spokesman told a regular briefing.

Russia's embassy to the EU said in a statement that it had received the letter.

The contents of the letters were not made public by either side but diplomats said they related to Russia's concerns about security on it western borders and EU efforts to resolve tensions through diplomacy.

(Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy in Moscow and Robin Emmott in Brussels; Editing by Peter Graff)