RUSSIA AND EU HOPE TO RESOLVE WTO ISSUES BEFORE MAY SUMMIT

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MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) - Pascal Lamy, the European trade commissioner, said that he hopes that Russia and the European Union will resolve the basic issues connected with Russia joining the WTO before the Russia-EU summit in Moscow that opens on May 20.

"We were able to reduce and optimize the number of unresolved issues," he told journalists on Thursday after a round of negotiations between Russian and European experts. "The list is becoming smaller and smaller."

German Gref, the economic development and trade minister, in turn, noted that during negotiations with the EU about Russia joining the WTO, "there was a good dynamic. The list of disagreements was significantly reduced."

According to Mr. Gref, today he discussed an "intense schedule for further consultations" with his European colleague. "In the near future we will finalize a meeting for settling the remaining questions," he said.

The basic issues discussed at the negotiations with the EU on Russia joining the WTO were access to the Russian market for insurance and bank services and import duties on a number of goods including cars, airplanes and agricultural products.

The EU's demand for internal and external natural gas prices be aligned and other energy issues were among topics discussed at the negotiations.

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