Georgia says progress made towards Russia WTO deal
Progress towards a deal enabling Russia to finally join the WTO in December was made at talks between Moscow's foe Georgia and Swiss mediators on Monday, Georgian officials said.
Georgia -- which as a WTO member could veto Russian membership if its conditions aren't met -- last week agreed to a "final proposal" from the Swiss, signalling an possible end to Russia's 18-year wait for accession to the global trade body.
Tbilisi, which fought a war with Moscow in 2008, has been demanding international monitoring of cross-border trade in its Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgian officials said that Switzerland had agreed at the talks between the country's leader Mikheil Saakashvili and his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey in the Black Sea resort of Batumi to act as the neutral monitor.
"It was agreed that the neutral third party will be Switzerland," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze told AFP.
Calmy-Rey flew to Georgia after meeting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday.
Russia -- the largest economy in the world to remain outside the WTO -- has expressed hope of joining by December 15, and its response to the Swiss proposal is expected this week.
© 2011 AFP