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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kudrin Says WTO Talks Intensifying

GENEVA -- Russia plans to intensify its efforts to join the World Trade Organization but does not want to set a target date for entry, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Monday.

"We do not want to have a Sword of Damocles hanging over us, which would happen if we set dates," he said.

President Vladimir Putin has said joining the 144-nation WTO is a vital part of his plans to turn Russia into a vibrant Western-leaning market economy. But there has been speculation Moscow might want to slow the pace of talks ahead of presidential elections in 2004.

However Kudrin, who spoke after meeting WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi, said that if Russia could prevent its partners from making more demands, the country could join the Geneva-based WTO in the "foreseeable future."

He did not spell out what the additional demands might be.

Talks on Russia's entry, which began in the mid-1990s, still have a number of issues to resolve, notably in the areas of agriculture, financial services and telecommunications.

While acknowledging there was still work to be done, Kudrin said it is time to quicken the pace of the discussions. "We have reached a stage where we can think in terms of intensifying efforts," he said.

Supachai told journalists that WTO negotiators and their Russian counterparts hoped to agree on what was left to do during three days of talks in Geneva. The two sides then planned to hold monthly meetings in a bid to overcome the remaining obstacles, he said.