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Russia bears no grudge against the United States for obstructing its bid to join the World Trade Organization
Russia bears no grudge against the United States for obstructing its bid to join the World Trade Organization, but will stick to its original positions, the foreign minister said Wednesday. Russia hoped to complete bilateral WTO accession negotiations with the U.S. before last weekend's Group of Eight summit near St. Petersburg, but the talks stalled primarily due to disagreements over Russia's barriers to U.S. beef and pork. However, substantial progress was reportedly made on other contentious issues, including copyright law and sales of manufactured goods. "We want to be 100% sure that procedures for controlling the quality of foods we import will conform to our standards," Sergei Lavrov said in a radio interview. "We believe that only a real representation of our interests in the final agreements can bring about a desired outcome. We are not seeking to gain WTO membership right away, but want to join in on the same terms as others." Lavrov said the accession talks had dragged on because Russia's negotiation partners "are trying to impose terms that breach either the standard WTO framework or our [national] legislation." The Russian foreign policy Sous-sherpa at the G8, Andrei Kondakov, said Sunday that the terms the U.S. had proposed for Russia to join the world's largest trade body went beyond the standard terms, and could be described as "WTO plus." Until Georgia announced it would withdraw its signature in the midst of political tensions with Moscow, the U.S. had been the only country with which Russia was yet to reach an agreement on its WTO bid. Russia's economics and finance ministers have both said the accession talks with the U.S. could be wrapped up by the end of October.
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