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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Negotiators Hope for July End to WTO Talks

Joining the World Trade Organization looks well within Russia's reach this year, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Wednesday, sounding an upbeat note amid concerns about new and persisting hurdles to the bid.

"In the next three weeks, we plan to complete the final round of bilateral talks with Georgia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Guatemala," Andrei Kushnirenko, deputy head of the ministry's trade talks department, said through his spokeswoman.

Negotiators then hope to wrap up the multilateral negotiations by the end of July and secure the State Duma's approval for accession by year's end, said the spokeswoman, Anastasia Zimonina.

"But this is only our plan," she added. "It might happen and, as always, it might not."

New hurdles emerged this month after a number of WTO member countries threatened to veto Russia's accession.

The European Union has also considered withdrawing support for Russia's WTO bid if it does not change its hard-line stance on various issues, including its standoff with Estonia over the moving of a Soviet war memorial in Tallinn and Russia's ban on Polish meat.

Zimonina said bilateral talks would be toughest with Georgia, on which Russia imposed a travel blockade and trade restrictions last year amid a diplomatic dispute.