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Ukraine PM Affirms Goal Of Year-End WTO Membership

Senator Rick Santorun (L) and Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov (RFE/RL) Washington, 1 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's prime minister was in Washington to reaffirm his government's goal of gaining membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of this year.

Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov told a group of foreign policy experts today that a bilateral agreement with the United States is crucial to its WTO aspirations.

Yekhanurov said his country must join the WTO before Russia, which recently conveyed concerns about Kyiv joining the trade body.

"If the Russian Federation enters the WTO ahead of Ukraine, that will mean Ukraine will never be a member of the WTO. This is a very simple task that I am now trying to accomplish. We have to be a member of the WTO before the Russian Federation and we'll do it," Yekhanurov said.

Bilateral accords must be reached before a country can join the WTO. Yekhanurov heads a delegation to Washington that includes Ukraine's economy, agriculture, and fuel and energy ministers. He is due to meet U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.