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Russia: Market Economy Recognized By U.S.

Moscow, 7 June (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today welcomed the United States' decision to recognize Russia as a market economy. Putin, speaking at a Eurasian security summit in St. Petersburg, said Washington's move was a powerful signal to international business leaders that the Russian economy is prepared to fully integrate into the world economy.

Yesterday's announcement by the U.S. Commerce Department means Russia will receive much the same treatment as other major U.S. trading partners, notably in the settlement of tariff disputes.

The move is seen as a step forward in Russia's quest to join the World Trade Organization.

In other news, Russia and Kazakhstan have signed an agreement on the transit of Kazakh oil through Russian territory.

The agreement was signed as Putin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev met today on the sidelines of the regional security meeting in St. Petersburg.

Putin told a news conference that the agreement suits both Russia and Kazakhstan. Under the 15-year agreement, at least 17.5 million tons of Kazakh oil are to transit through Russia every year. The two countries also agreed to set up a joint gas company to process and transport Kazakh natural gas. The ITAR-TASS news agency said the state-owned Kazakh KazMunayGaz company will own 50 percent of the new company, while Russia's Gazprom and the Rosneft oil company will split the remaining shares.