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Published: Friday February 28, 2014 MYT 9:10:03 PM
Updated: Friday February 28, 2014 MYT 9:10:58 PM

Poland ready to talk about roads payment row: Irish minister

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland is suggesting a willingness to resolve disputes with European construction firms over road-building contracts worth billions of euros, an Irish government minister said on Friday.

Many contractors accuse the Polish state roads agency of forcing them to absorb heavy losses to build Polish motorways, and even driving some into bankruptcy. Poland has denied the allegations. The contracts were backed by European Union cash.

Paschal Donohoe, Ireland's European Affairs Minister, had meetings in Warsaw on Friday with senior Polish infrastructure officials. Irish firms were among the worst hit by disputes with Poland over payments for building motorways.

Construction executives say they are hopeful of a new approach by Poland after the Polish roads agency chief - who was the focus of criticism from contractors - was removed from his job this month.

"We had a constructive meeting this morning. We had a clear and substantial exchange of views regarding very differing views on this matter," Donohoe told Reuters in an interview. "It was positive."

The minister said the Polish officials agreed to have further discussions with Ireland, something which he said was "an important development on this issue".

Firms in dispute with the Polish roads agency over payments include Austria's Strabag and Alpine Bau, Ireland's SIAC, SISK and Roadbridge, a unit of Spain's Ferrovial and a unit of Germany's Bilfinger

(Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Marcin Goettig and Mark Heinrich)

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