Kudrin, Lamy discuss progress in Russia 's WTO admission talks



Russia's Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, on Friday discussed the current state of the negotiations on Russia's admission to the WTO and the outlook for their completion, the chief of the Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry's trading negotiations department, Maxim Medvedkov, told Itar-Tass in an interview. The meeting was held "in a constructive vein," but, as Medvedkov said, "the question of admitting new WTO members is decided not by Mr. Lamy, but by all members of the organization." About the practical aspect of the negotiations Medvedkov said there was a meeting with the chairman of the working group for Russia 's admission to the WTO, Stefan Johannesson, as well as a number of bilateral consultations. A tentative work schedule for the first two months of 2008 was drawn up.

Under the schedule Russia at the end of January will be expected to present updated texts of the working group's reports on customs norms and phyto-sanitary rules.

In February there will follow bilateral consultations with the members of the working group concerned on all these sections. More general consultations will take place afterwards, in part, those concerning intellectual property and the provision of services.

The February consultations will produce a format and timetable of further talks, the chief Russian delegate said, adding that the working group's chief expressed the hope the negotiations will be completed pretty soon.

Medvedkov expressed the opinion that the continuing talks with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates "also open up good opportunities for progress."

At this round of consultations in Geneva there were no bilateral meetings with Georgia , but they were not on the agenda anyway. Medvedkov said that the operation of customs checkpoints on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian stretches of the Russian-Georgian border remained the stumbling block. It is expected that the next round of bilateral consultations will be held late January.