Russia to continue WTO talks in Geneva

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Moscow, May 19: Amid the Georgian threat to block the Russian WTO entry over support to its breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Russia will continue its bid to join the world organisation with a new round of bilateral and multilateral talks in Geneva today.

''It remains unclear whether the WTO's newest member, Ukraine, or fellow ex-Soviet state Georgia will be taking part in the negotiations,'' Russia's chief delegate to the talks, Maxim Medvedkov said. ''Ukraine, like every other WTO member, has the right to join the working group on Russia's accession and everyone has been invited, including Georgia,'' he was quoted as saying by Ria Novosti.

Georgian Reintegration Minister Temuri Yakobashvili said last Friday that the country will continue to block Russia's entry to the global trade body until it withdraws its support for the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.

Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi have seen a new deterioration since the Russian leadership called for closer ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway Georgian republic, in mid-April.

Russia has been seeking membership of the global trade body since 1993. So far, Moscow has concluded bilateral talks with over 60 states, but still needs to complete discussions with two WTO members - Saudi Arabia and Georgia.

Ukraine officially joined the WTO on Friday, in line with an accession document signed by President Viktor Yushchenko and WTO chief Pascal Lamy on February 5.


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