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    Putin expects U.S. to back WTO bid, lift technology transfer ban

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    Russia's prime minister said on Friday he expects the United States to back a joint bid by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to join the WTO after its "brave" decision to scrap missile defense plans for Europe.

    SOCHI, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's prime minister said on Friday he expects the United States to back a joint bid by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to join the WTO after its "brave" decision to scrap missile defense plans for Europe.

    U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday it was dropping plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland as Iran is perceived a lesser threat.

    Moscow, which fiercely opposed the plans as a security threat, welcomed the move as part of efforts to "reset" ties strained by a host of issues under the Bush administration.

    "I expect that this correct and brave decision will be followed by others, including the complete removal of all restrictions of high technology transfers to Russia and more active efforts to enlarge the World Trade Organization to include Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus," Vladimir Putin said at an investment forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

    Russia has for years been trying to have the United States lift Cold War-era restrictions on technology exports to the Soviet Union and other Communist-bloc countries. The restrictions have been a major irritant in relations with the United States.

    Russia is also the world's only major economy still outside the WTO. President Dmitry Medvedev earlier blamed Washington for blocking its accession in the trade body.

    Ex-Soviet allies Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in early June to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO.

     

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