Brussels: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has held his last summit with EU leaders amid divergences over energy, Syria and Iran, and set against European demands for clean elections.
  
As the euro zone canvasses financial support for its fight against debt, Medvedev joined EU leaders for a private dinner outside Brussels on Wednesday.
     
The summit starting from around 08.00 GMT on Thursday will gather EU president Herman Van Rompuy, executive head Jose Manuel Barroso, foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
     
Medvedev was joined by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plus economic development and trade minister Elvira Nabiullina.
    
 The Russian president is not expected to speak publicly until a press conference planned for 12.45 GMT Thursday and a subsequent round-table from 14.00 GMT with business leaders from giant industrial corporations such as Siemens or Deutsche Bahn.
 
Russian and European Union officials say the summit will focus on "deliverables" including the first tentative steps towards a cherished Russian goal of visa-free travel in and out of the  bloc.
   
Some short trips will be made easier once biometric passports are introduced alongside other changes.
     
Ahead of Friday's signing in Geneva of Russia's World Trade Organisation accession, 18 years in the negotiation, an EU official said the focus would now move to opening negotiations on an EU-Russia agreement covering trade and political cooperation.
 
Before that EU leaders will press Medvedev on "democratic development, the rule of law and human rights," the official said, following parliamentary elections that sparked mass street protests and left Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party with a sharply reduced majority.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the former EU government minister said democratisation was "definitely an issue," although he nuanced the scale of EU ambitions with such a "critical partner" as Russia -- not least in Western moves on Syria and Iran.

(Agencies)