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    Medvedev hopes milk row will not impede Russia-Belarus WTO bid

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday that he hoped the recent dispute with Belarus over dairy supplies would not impede the countries' joint bid to join the World Trade Organization.

    MOSCOW, June 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday that he hoped the recent dispute with Belarus over dairy supplies would not impede the countries' joint bid to join the World Trade Organization.

    Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan earlier agreed to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO.

    "I hope this situation will not impede the development of normal cooperation in the agrarian sphere, and our coordinated efforts to join the WTO. This is why we have created a special Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and will now be joining the WTO together," Medvedev said in an interview with Russian TV Channel One.

    Belarus briefly imposed tough customs controls on border crossings with Russia on Wednesday, but cancelled them later the same day after Moscow scrapped its ban on Belarusian dairy supplies, which bring the country $1 billion in annual revenue. Moscow claimed Belarus had failed to comply with new regulations despite repeated warnings.

    The dispute further strained ties between the post Soviet neighbors, who have been trying to establish a "union state." The ban, imposed earlier this month, sparked a furious reaction in Minsk, which called it "economic discrimination" and boycotted a security summit in Moscow last Sunday in protest.

    Medvedev said, however, that Belarus had overreacted to Russia's dairy ban.

    "The situation is quite simple. You have to trade in a civilized manner, and this applies even to such close and fraternal countries as Russia and Belarus. We said already a year ago that certificates for milk and meat products exported by Belarus had to be changed," Medvedev said.

     

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