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Russia Says It Wants To Join WTO Soon

Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -- Russia has confirmed it wants to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and said members of its customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus would seek to join as separate entities.

But a Russian official said after trade talks with the European Union in Stockholm that Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan would join in a coordinated way and with a common position.

The comments removed some of the confusion caused earlier this year by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when he said Moscow would join the WTO only as part of the customs union -- an unprecedented move in the history of the WTO.

"We want the WTO talks to go quickly and be concluded soon," Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's ambassador to the EU, told reporters. "After the customs union was formed, some interpreted this as a sign of Russia losing interest in WTO. This is wrong.

"We confirm that joining the WTO remains our goal. Members of the customs union will join the WTO as separate entities but in a synchronized way and with common positions."

Joining the WTO would open markets to Moscow and open Russian markets to countries in the organization.

Russia's 16-year trail of WTO talks has often stalled on various disputes and before joining the WTO -- through the customs union or on its own -- Russia must resolve several trade and tariff issues.