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Russia not to change Georgia policy for WTO membership: Medvedev

(Xinhua)

13:59, August 05, 2011

Russia hopes to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of 2011, but would not yield to Georgia's political demands as a price, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.

Speaking to Russian and Georgian media, Medvedev said that Georgia's support of Russian bid for WTO membership may become a touch point to restore diplomatic relations.

"Georgia has a separate position on the matter. We respect Georgia if its position stems from the WTO's aims. We are ready to discuss trade, preferences, customs regimes," Medvedev said.

However, Russia won't accept any attempts to change existing political realities under disguise of the WTO's accession conditions, he stressed.

"We surely will not agree to it, and in such a case even the WTO will not be the price to pay," Medvedev was quoted by the state-run Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

Georgia remains the only WTO member which blocks Russia's accession into the organization. It demands that Moscow close customs offices in two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Moscow and Tbilisi have been at odds over status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow recognized their independence in August 2008 following a brief armed conflict with Georgia.

In Thursday's interview, Medvedev also said South Ossetia's joining Russia presently is impossible without legal preconditions.

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