Europe's EFTA bloc halts trade talks with Russia

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Norwegian official says Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have suspended joint trade talks with Russia because of Moscow's intervention in Crimea.

The four countries are not in the European Union but negotiate some trade agreements together as a bloc called the European Free Trade Association.

EFTA has been working on a deal with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. But Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Eskil Sivertsen said Tuesday that the talks were put on hold in response to Russia's actions in Crimea. Iceland's Foreign Ministry confirmed the talks were suspended.

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty to annex the Black Sea peninsula, where residents voted Sunday to secede from Ukraine in a referendum dismissed as illegitimate in the West.

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