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Russia may join WTO by November 2009 - EU commissioner

The EU commissioner for trade said on Thursday that Russia would become a WTO member by November 2009, and could complete talks on its accession to the global trade organization later this year.

Peter Mandelson said that while Russia had already concluded 90% of the negotiations necessary for WTO accession, it still had a number of issues to settle. Georgia, 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. Maxim Medvedkov, Russia’s chief negotiator for accession to the WTO, said earlier this week that no talks had yet been scheduled with the ex-Soviet republic.

Russia and the EU are to start talks on a new wide-reaching strategic partnership agreement at a summit to be held in Khanty-Mansiisk, West Siberia later this month. The EU commissioner also said it would be important for Russia and the EU to sign an energy cooperation agreement. (