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Russia to hold WTO talks in Saudi Arabia

A regular two-day round of talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will begin on Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Russia, the only major economy outside the WTO, has been seeking membership in the organization since 1993. So far, Moscow has concluded bilateral talks with over 60 states, but still needs to complete discussions with two WTO members - Saudi Arabia and Georgia.

"Our aim is to push the negotiations forward and to bring them to an end if possible," Russia's chief WTO negotiator Maxim Medvedkov said.

Russia's finance minister Alexei Kudrin will join the negotiations on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, the world's second largest oil producer, had to raise domestic oil prices to global levels before membership to the trade body in 2005, and is now making similar demands on Russia.

"Taking into consideration the friendly relations between our countries and the fact that Saudi Arabia has supported Russia in multilateral talks, we expect at least to bring our positions closer," Medvedkov said.

Last Monday, the working group on Russia's accession met at the WTO headquarters in Geneva and agreed to continue talks at a meeting in mid-June. The talks will have an informal status due to the stance on Russia's membership taken by Georgia.

Tbilisi which became WTO member in 2000, is threatening to block Russia's accession to the WTO unless Moscow halts support for its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

RIA Novosti

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