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    Russia still seeks WTO membership - top negotiator

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    Russia's top negotiator for the country's accession to the World Trade Organization said Monday that Russia should press ahead with negotiations and not postpone its entry into the world trade club.

    MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's top negotiator for the country's accession to the World Trade Organization said Monday that Russia should press ahead with negotiations and not postpone its entry into the world trade club.

    Maxim Medvedkov announced the resumption of WTO accession talks last week after they collapsed in late July over several stumbling blocks.

    "The world financial crisis may grow into a commodity crisis and we need to understand where it is advantageous for us to be - inside the WTO or outside that organization," Medvedkov said, adding that if it failed to join, other countries would not play by the rules in their dealings with Russia.

    Medvedkov said Russia had been the target of various sanctions in the past 15 years when crises hit commodity markets. In particular, Russian steel and aluminum companies were hit by U.S. anti-dumping proceedings in the 1990s but could not challenge them as Russia was not a WTO member, Medvedkov said.

    "If there is a system of rules for world trade, it is better to be within that system," Medvedkov said.

    At the same time, Medvedkov said Russia planned to review trade agreements with about five countries, including the United States, which in their current form could be economically disadvantageous for the country.

    "There will be no more than five of them. Consultations with partners will begin in October," Medvedkov said.

    He said Russia had concluded eight to 10 agreements with the United States at different times that had no direct relation to Russia's WTO accession, including accords on the lease of aircraft, telecommunications equipment, veterinary and phytosanitary measures.

    "Russia will not review all of these agreements but only those that stipulate tariffs that we consider very liberal," Medvedkov said.

    Russia is the only major world economy outside the WTO, although it began talks in 1995.

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