Russia says US seeks swift end to WTO talks

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MOSCOW, Oct 21 (Reuters) Russia's Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said that US officials have expressed the wish to conclude as quickly as possible multilateral talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

''I got the feeling that they are ready to push these negotiations forward,'' Kudrin said late yesterday after talks with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez in Washington.

Russia, the largest economy outside the 151-member trading bloc, has been holding talks since 1992 to become a member.

President Vladimir Putin made WTO entry a priority of his presidency but has said Russia will only join on terms acceptable to its producers.

US ally Georgia has threatened to hold up Russia's accession to the WTO. Moscow and Tbilisi are in bilateral WTO talks with Georgia over customs posts on Russia's borders with the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

REUTERS SKB VC1702

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