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Georgia Accepts Swiss Proposal In WTO Dispute With Russia

Georgia has accepted a Swiss plan to end a customs dispute with Russia, a move which could pave the way for Moscow to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Georgia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze said the Swiss proposal is for international monitors to be deployed at border checkpoints in Georgia's two separatist provinces of North Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Georgia had demanded that Russia allow Georgian customs officials to operate in the breakaway regions. Moscow, which recognizes the two regions as independent states, rejected Tbilisi's conditions.

The Georgian government said in a statement that "from the Georgian perspective, the Russian Federation can become a member of the WTO provided that it also agrees to the proposal."

Russia's top WTO negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, said it would take a few days to analyze the Swiss offer. Medvedkov said Moscow would give an answer next week.

Both the European Union and the United States have voiced hope that Moscow could join the WTO by the year's end.

compiled from agency reports

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