Russia has high chances of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) this year, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said on Saturday.
"For the first time in 10 years since I have been dealing with the issue of Russia's accession to the WTO, I believe indeed that the chances that Russia will join the WTO are real," Lamy told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Russia, the only major economy outside the global trade club, has been negotiating entry to the WTO for 17 years. Russian and foreign officials have recently said that Moscow could become a member in 2011.
The WTO chief said however some obstacles on Russia's way to join the organization still remained, including the bilateral relations with one of WTO members, without giving further detains.
Experts believe that Georgia, which is already a member of the WTO, could block Russia's bid. The two states have failed to agree on customs procedures for the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as independent after the August war.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour since the five-day war between the two former Soviet countries in August 2008, which began when Georgian forces attacked the republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
Russian presidential economic adviser Arkady Dvorkovich said earlier Russia hoped for support of other countries on this issue, reiterating that Russia will most likely join the organization by the end of 2011.
In late November, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Russia had resolved all disagreements with the European Union concerning its accession to the World Trade Organization.
Moscow earlier concluded protracted talks with the United States over Russia's potential membership in the Geneva-based body, comprising more than 150 countries.
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