Obama sees Russia in WTO this year: Kremlin

3rd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Barack Obama believes there is a "realistic" chance Russia may join the World Trade Organization this year, the Kremlin said Wednesday following a telephone conversation between the US president and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

The conversation between Obama and Medvedev, their second in three weeks, focuses on Russia's 17-year bid to gain entry to the world's premier free trade club, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two presidents "underscored that the accomplishment of this top-priority mission --Russia's membership in the WTO before the end of the year -- seems entirely realistic," the Kremlin said.

Russia has been negotiating accession to the WTO since 1993 and remains the largest economy outside the organisation.

Medvedev's aides have hinted that Russia's failure to enter the club this year may delay its membership indefinitely because Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could potentially return to the presidency in elections next year.

Putin has backed a much tougher negotiating position on the WTO than Medvedev and has previously said that Russia would only be willing to join the group on Moscow's own terms.

© 2011 AFP

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