Tbilisi Denies Reports on WTO Talks with Russia

Georgia Materials 26 February 2007 15:25 (UTC +04:00)

( Civil ) - The Georgian negotiator in charge of Russia's WTO accession talks has denied Russian media reports that the next round of talks between Russia and Georgia were launched in Geneva on February 26.

"During the previous talks [in January] we agreed with the Russian side to exchange opinions by the end of February in writing, but no bilateral meeting was planned," Tamar Kovziridze, the Georgian Deputy Economy Minister, told Civil Georgia on February 26.

Recent talks between Russia and Georgia were held in January 2007 in Geneva .

Russian Economy Minister German Gref said on January 26 that Georgia has not removed all of its objections yet in regard to Russia 's WTO membership, but noted that there has been progress in talks.

On January 27 President Saakashvili said that Tbilisi wants Russia to legalize trade at the two border crossing points with Georgia located in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a precondition for Georgia to endorse Russia 's WTO accession.

"We remain committed to this position," Tamar Kovziridze reiterated on February 26.

"The Westerners are not concerned about the existence and activity of ... centrifuges in Iran ," he added. "They are concerned about the collapse of their hegemony and hollow power."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded by saying "they don't need a reverse gear. They need a stop button." She also told "Fox News Sunday" that Tehran needs "to stop enriching and reprocessing, and then we can sit down and talk about whatever is on Iran 's mind."