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South Korean Protesters on 17 December (epa) 17 December 2005 -- Police in Hong Kong used tear gas and fire hoses to hold back hundreds of demonstrators from getting near the venue where the World Trade Organization (WTO) is holding a meeting.

South Korean farmers, who say free trade hurts them, swung sticks and hurled eggs. Police responded with pepper spray and water cannons.

Reports say more than 50 people, including five police officers, were hurt and more than 900 others were arrested.

As the fighting raged, European and Japanese trade delegations were brought to the convention center by boat. But their negotiatons were headed into the night in a bid to reach some basic deal.

Diplomats say a failure to resolve sticking points before the six-day talks end tomorrow could jeopardize the chances of freeing up global business in farm and industrial goods and services.

(news agencies)

WTO Status Of RFE/RL Broadcast Countries

An exhibition of the history of the WTO in Singapore in 1996 (courtesy photo)

WTO Members:
Armenia: Joined on 5 February 2003.
Croatia: Joined on 30 November 2000.
Georgia: Joined on 14 June 2000.
Kyrgyzstan: Joined on 20 December 1998.
Macedonia: Joined on 4 April 2003.
Moldova: Joined on 26 July 2001.
Romania: Joined on 1 January 1995.

Countries That Are Not Yet WTO Members:
Afghanistan: Submitted its application in November 2004.
Azerbaijan: Submitted its application in June 1997.
Bosnia-Herezgovina: Submitted its application in May 1999.
Belarus: Submitted its application in September 1993.
Iran: Submitted its application in July 1996.
Iraq: Submitted its application in September 2004.
Kazakhstan: Submitted its application in January 1996.
Russia: Submitted its application in June 1993.
Serbia and Montenegro: Submitted separate applications in December 2004.
Tajikistan: Submitted its application in May 2001.
Ukraine: Submitted its application in November 1993.
Uzbekistan: Submitted its application in December 1994.

For more information, click here.

For an exclusive RFE/RL interview with former WTO head MICHAEL MOORE,click here.