Russia accepts deal with Georgia to clinch WTO membership

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Russia has accepted a Swiss-mediated deal with foe Georgia that clears the way for Moscow to join the World Trade Organisation after an 18-year wait, Georgian officials said early Thursday.

"The Russians have agreed on the Swiss proposal. We have no details about their decision, but it looks like the deal is made," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze told AFP.

Russia, the largest economy in the world to remain outside the WTO, has expressed hope of joining the global trade body in mid-December.

Georgia -- which fought a war with Russia in 2008 and as a WTO member could veto Moscow's membership -- last week agreed to a "final proposal" from Swiss mediators addressing its concerns.

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.

Kapanadze said that a Georgian delegation would arrive in Switzerland later Thursday for talks with the Russians and the Swiss negotiators.

"I think the agreement will be signed within several days," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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