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White House Official on Georgia-Russia WTO Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Mar.'11 / 13:54

Georgia-Russia WTO talks are bilateral issue in which Washington has no role, a White House official said, adding that Tbilisi wants to focus specifically on trade issue without making “it a bigger debate.”

“There is a process underway. I don't want to prejudge it because we’re not involved in it, but I think… Moscow understands – the negotiators understand that they have to deal with this issue seriously, and this is not just something that they can wait for us to make the Georgians go along, because we’re not going to do that,” Michael McFaul, President Obama’s special assistant and National Security Council’s senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs, said on March 4.

“And at the same time, I think the leadership in Tbilisi understands that they want to find a cooperative solution to this issue to deal specifically with the economic and trade issues that are involved here, and not make it a bigger debate. But I can tell you that there is a process underway, but I don't know where that has led to or where that will lead to,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters via conference call ahead of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Russia next week.

McFaul said that Washington made it clear to both Moscow and Tbilisi that it was in the U.S. “national interest for Russia to be a member of the WTO.”
“We think it’s a good thing for our companies and for our trade and for our investors that Russia is bound by a set of international rules and regulations and practices that make economic interaction with Russia more predictable,” he said.

“And when it’s not predictable, then one can use the mechanisms of the WTO to bring grievances against them. We think that's a good thing for us. I suspect it may be a good thing for Georgia. But I think at the end of the day, this is a bilateral issue, not a trilateral issue,” McFaul added.

Georgian officials have said for number of times recently that Tbilisi’s position over Russia’s WTO entry remained unchanged. Georgia says that it is not against of Russia's WTO entry, but under the condition that Moscow makes border crossing points in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia “transparent”.

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