Putin: US blocks progress in WTO talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of blocking Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization. At a meeting with Russian businessmen on Wednesday he said progress in the Russian-US talks on WTO entry was being artificially delayed, Mayak radio station reported. “We received from our American colleagues a list of questions requiring additional consultations, which we thought had been settled long ago,” Putin said.

He confirmed Russia’s interest in joining the world trade family. “We will take this step if it satisfies all participants of the process, in the first place Russia and its economy,” the head-of-state stressed.

During his recent visit to the United States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Russian-US negotiations on Russia’s accession to the WTO were supervised by US President George W. Bush. “The President of the United States has confirmed his firm desire to complete the Russian-US talks, and he controls the process,” Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, the United States is not the only country with which Russia has disagreements over WTO membership. On Tuesday Moldova threatened to use its veto and block Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Moldovan authorities demanded that Moscow lift all restrictions imposed on Moldovan exports to Russia, threatening to use its right of veto if Russian authorities refused to fulfill Moldova’s demands.

Debates continue over Russia’s entry into the WTO. Some say Russia must join the organization as soon as possible, others point to the necessity of considering all positions carefully, and some experts believe there is no need for Russia to join the World Trade Organization.

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