Russia WTO accession talks to be held in Georgia May 30-31



A new round of talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization will be held between Russian and Georgian officials in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, May 30 and 31.

According to Georgia 's Economic Development Ministry, the talks will focus primarily on a dispute over Russian customs control points in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia .

The head of the ministry, Giorgi Arveladze, said Georgia would support Russia 's accession to the WTO, but only after the Russian side has delivered on its 2004 commitment to close down checkpoints on its border with the separatist provinces.

The meeting takes place just a day after Russia relaxed its ban on entry visas for Georgians for the first time since visa restrictions were imposed last September, following the brief arrest of several Russian officers on espionage charges.

The arrests also prompted Moscow to cut transportation and postal links with Tbilisi and to deport Georgian migrants.

Some analysts say the easing of the ban was aimed exclusively at securing Georgia 's consent for Moscow 's entry to the world's largest trade bloc.

Russia has yet to complete bilateral talks on its WTO accession with Vietnam and Cambodia and to get multilateral approval from its trade partners within the 150-member organization.

( RIA Novosti , May 30, 2007)