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Bush, Putin agree to speed up WTO talks
Updated: 2005-12-24 08:40

U.S. President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed to complete trade talks needed for Russia to join the World Trade Organization "as soon as possible," the White House said on Friday.

"The president called President Putin today to discuss the negotiations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization," U.S. national security council spokesman Fred Jones told reporters.

"They agreed that we have made substantial progress in our bilateral negotiations over the past year, that we are close to completing them, and that we need to continue to work hard to complete them as soon as possible," he said.

Russia, the only country among economic giants that have not joined the WTO, hopes to be a member of the 149-member Geneva-based trade regulation body in 2006. It must complete WTO accession talks with the United States and Australia, with whom it is at odds on several key trade questions.

Washington wants Moscow to open up its agricultural and financial services markets, as well as lower taxes on imports of passenger planes.

The former also insists that the latter ensure better protection of intellectual property rights.

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