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    Russia to start new round of WTO consultations in November

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    A new round of consultations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization will start on November 3, the country's top negotiator said Thursday

    MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - A new round of consultations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization will start on November 3, the country's top negotiator said Thursday.

    Russia started WTO accession talks in 1995. The latest round of talks with the 153-member global trade organization collapsed in late July and resumed September 18 in Geneva. The working group on Russia's accession to the WTO decided Thursday on a schedule to continue the talks.

    "In accordance with the schedule, the next round of consultations will open in the week that starts on November 3," Maxim Medvedkov said.

    Medvedkov said earlier Thursday that Russia should press ahead with negotiations and not postpone its accession to the world trade club.

    "A financial crisis is now developing worldwide. It may spread to commodity markets. As is frequently the case, countries sharply step up protectionist measures in such situations. If we don't join the WTO, other countries will not play by the rules against us," Medvedkov said in an interview with Izvestia newspaper.

    "That is why, I don't believe we should postpone this issue," he added.

    Medvedkov also said the absence of diplomatic relations with Georgia would not pose an obstacle for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

    "There are a lot of countries in the world that do not maintain diplomatic relations. For example, this concerns the United States and Cuba, Armenia and Turkey, and many other countries. Therefore, the absence of bilateral relations, in principle, does not affect membership," Medvedkov said.

    Georgia, which became a WTO member in 2000, broke off diplomatic relations with Russia after Moscow recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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