Russian FM Lavrov rejects reports of WTO accession talks failure

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Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday denied reports that negotiations over the country's accession to the World Trade Organization had collapsed, but admitted they were advancing with some difficulty.
MOSCOW, July 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday denied reports that negotiations over the country's accession to the World Trade Organization had collapsed, but admitted they were advancing with some difficulty.

"All the sides are now making very proactive efforts at the negotiations," Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

The United States is the only WTO member state with whom Russia is yet to resolve all contentious issues standing in the way of its WTO bid, he said.

According to Lavrov, the issue is likely to be raised during a bilateral meeting between the presidents of Russia and the U.S. on the sidelines of a Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg.

He said Vladimir Putin and George Bush continued to emphasize "the political necessity of concluding this agreement" and that progress in the matter now depended entirely on the negotiators.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said he expected Russia's negotiations with the U.S. on his country's WTO accession to be over before the end of this week.

"I hope we will complete negotiations with the Americans before the summit begins," he said, referring to the Putin-Bush talks on the eve of the G8's St. Petersburg summit.

Russia will receive the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Japan on July 15-17 as part of its current presidency of the club of the world's richest nations.

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