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U.S. Trade Chief Backs Russia Joining WTO This Year

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk (left) and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov (file photo)
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says he's confident that Russia will be able resolve all remaining issues in order to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of this year.

Kirk said in a statement that "Russia has made great progress" on its bid to join the WTO, which supervises and sets the rules for international trade.

The statement was issued on October 3 after Kirk met in Washington with First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who is Russia's lead negotiator on Moscow's bid to join the WTO.

Shuvalov's office said he also met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Russia's WTO bid must still overcome concerns raised by Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in August 2008, and the U.S. Congress must still vote to establish "permanent normal trade relations" with Russia.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has backed developing what is described as a "Eurasian Union" to promote regional integration.

In an article published in "Izvestia," Putin says the union could build from Moscow's existing Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which is seeking to remove all barriers to trade, capital, and labor movement between the three countries.