Russia says WTO talks with Georgia will be continued

The first round of talks with Georgia on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization was “constructive” and negotiations will be continued, Grigory Karasin, a deputy Russian foreign minister, said Tuesday.

“Russia is not only ready, Russia is continuing the talks,” Karasin told journalists, adding that the next round has been scheduled for a later time. He did not specify the date.

The talks resumed on Thursday in Switzerland after being suspended for almost three years.

Russia has been in membership talks with the 153-nation WTO for 17 years and remains the only major economy still outside the organization. The European Union gave its formal backing to the country’s entry bid in December last year after Russia agreed to trim timber export duties and rail freight tariffs.

However, Georgia says it will not allow Russia to join the global free trade club unless it cedes control of customs in the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia in August 2008 when Moscow recognized the independence of the two former Georgian republics following a five-day war, which started when Georgia attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.

MINSK, March 15 (RIA Novosti) 

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