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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 13:26 GMT
Georgia threatens Russia WTO veto
President Putin
President Putin is keen for Russia's WTO membership
Georgia is threatening to block Russia's membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a dispute over links between the two nations.

It is unhappy at the trade blockade being imposed on it by Russia and at threats by Russian energy giant Gazprom to double gas prices in Georgia.

Georgia's foreign and economic development ministries said Russia joining the WTO was in their interests.

But they said Russia must follow rules of international trade.

If agreement is not reached "the process of Russia's accession to the WTO will be suspended", the departments said.

Sour relations

Joining the WTO requires the approval of all member nations.

Georgia's comments come days after Russia and the US have signed a bilateral agreement after 12 years of negotiations - paving the way for Russia's accession.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia are sour after Moscow began a blockade of transport and postal systems on Georgia following the arrest of four Russian army officers accused on spying in Tbilisi in September.

Russia has also banned imports of Georgian wine and mineral water - citing quality concerns.

Gas supplies

Earlier this month, Russian energy giant Gazprom threatened to halt supplies to Georgia unless it agreed to higher gas prices.

In January this year Russia briefly halted supplies to Ukraine in a similar row, which sent shockwaves across Europe.

Authorities in Georgia have refused to agree to the new gas tariffs and insist the sanctions and price hikes are punishment for its relations with the West.

The Georgian government meanwhile is demanding it regains control of two customs points - the crossing between Russia and the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Another near neighbour, Moldova, has also raised concerns.

Some Russian media are sceptical about the benefits of Russia's WTO entry with one commentator saying that, for many Russians, the move will prove "a curse".

Another said the agreement with the US was in exchange for Moscow's compliance on North Korea and Iraq.

US paves way for Russia WTO entry
19 Nov 06 |  Business
Q&A: Russian-Georgian ties
02 Oct 06 |  Europe

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