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The Roki tunnel, which connects the Russian republic of North Ossetia with the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia (ITAR-TASS) November 21, 2006 -- Georgia said today it will only approve Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) if it is allowed to regain control of two customs posts in two Georgian regions administered by Moscow-backed separatists.

The Georgian foreign affairs and economic development ministries said in a joint statement that Georgia, which is a WTO member, wants control of the Adleri-Leselidze crossing point between Russia and Abkhazia, and the Roki tunnel between Russia and South Ossetia.

The self-declared foreign minister of the Abkhaz separatist government, Sergei Shamba, called the Georgian demand "absurd."

Russia this weekend won the United States' approval for its efforts to join the WTO, but Georgia could yet hinder its accession efforts.


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.