Russia 'sick and tired' of WTO obstacles: Lavrov

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia is exasperated with delays in its long-running bid to join the World Trade Organization and the issue must be settled soon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We are sick and tired of new and new demands. I think we are nearing the moment of truth, and it would be very unfortunate if the truth would be negative rather than positive," he said during a visit to Washington.

Last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that his country could realistically join the WTO later this year unless "political games" interfered.

The largest economy not a part of the 153-member trade body, Moscow has long expressed frustration with delays in its WTO accession bid. It first applied to join in 1993. However, an applicant must obtain the approval of all other WTO members.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has expressed support for Russia's WTO ambitions, but the two sides must still resolve their remaining trade disagreements before Washington gives its approval.

The WTO negotiations have been "very tough, maybe tougher than on the START treaty," Lavrov said at the Russian Embassy in Washington, referring to a landmark nuclear arms treaty signed by Obama and Medvedev last year.

In December, Russia made major progress when it signed an agreement with the European Union resolving the last sticking points that had been holding up EU approval for Russia's accession bid.

However, Russia angered the EU last month when it slapped a blanket ban on imports of European vegetables in reaction to Germany's deadly E. Coli outbreak. The EU called the ban incompatible with WTO rules.

Russia's bid is also being held up by Georgia, its small ex-Soviet neighbor with which it has had rocky relations ever since the two countries fought a brief war in 2008. Georgia has been a WTO member since 2000.

© 2011 AFP

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