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U.S. Backs Russia's WTO Accession - Deputy PM Ivanov

World Trade Organization LogoWASHINGTON. April 6 (Interfax) - Russia's prospective membership in the World Trade Organization was the main issue on the agenda of the talks between Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns in Washington.

"Progress and a 'reset' in Russian-American relations are reflected in this year's agreements. But we also discussed Russia's accession to the WTO and the lifting of the Jackson-Vanik amendment," Ivanov told Russian reporters in Washington at a press conference at the Russian embassy. The Georgian issue was also discussed in this connection, he said. "This problem is political rather than anything else, but we are prepared to discuss these issues quietly if necessary, in talks with the Georgian side, which, as you probably know, are underway in Geneva with Switzerland's direct mediation, and we must continue doing that," Ivanov said.

Ivanov also announced that he had a business lunch with U.S. special assistant to the president for Russia and Eurasia Michal McFaul on Tuesday morning and will meet with U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk on Wednesday.

"The WTO problem will be discussed in all its entirety," he said. Visits by Russian officials are being planned, he said, adding that Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin's visit will take place soon to be followed by a possible visit by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Ivanov said.

Ivanov expressed regret that the level of Russian-American economic relations remains low.

"A $23 billon level trade is a trifle for Russian-American economic relations," he said.

The United States is lagging far behind Sweden and Finland in the volume of direct investment in Russia, he said.

Ivanov will be in Florida on Wednesday to attend a conference on investment in fast-growing markets, mostly in BRIC countries.

"Given the current situation, and the developments in Japan and Libya, Russia looks appealing enough from the investment point of view," he said.

Ivanov's visit will end on Friday.

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