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UPDATED: 15:22, September 22, 2004
Russia ends WTO talks with S. Korea
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Russia finished talks with South Korea yesterday on Moscow's bid for entry into the World Trade Organization. The two countries also signed significant energy deals, as South Korea seeks to cut its reliance on Middle East oil.

The string of deals was signed during a visit by President Roh Moo-hyun to Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin hailed a breakthrough in relations between Russia, the world's number two oil exporter, and South Korea, the number four oil buyers. The deals came a day after South Korea clinched a major energy pact with resource-rich Kazakhstan.

Putin estimated that Tuesday's deals were worth at least 4 billion U.S. dollars, while the total trade volume between the two countries in 2003 was 4.2 billion US dollars.

The deals included a memorandum of understanding between state-run Korea National Oil Corporation and Russian state oil firm Rosneft. It was the largest oil deal to be signed in Russia since the arrest last October of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the main shareholder in oil major YUKOS. His arrest put a chill on the climate for foreign investment in Russia.

To gain entry into the WTO, Russia needs to hold bilateral negotiations with members of the organization. Moscow is set to finish talks with its main trade partners within the year.


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