(Reuters) - Russia and the United States resumed marathon talks on Friday aimed at reaching agreement on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization ahead of a Group of Eight summit.
The Kremlin is keen for a deal before the weekend G8 summit in the northern city of St Petersburg, where President Vladimir Putin will host world leaders including George W. Bush. The two leaders were to meet later in the day, reports Trend.
The WTO negotiations went into a third day on Friday morning in Moscow but broke off for the delegation heads -- U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Russian Economy Minister German Gref -- to fly to St Petersburg, where they will continue.
"We are going to continue to negotiate throughout the day," Schwab's spokesman Sean Spicer said. "There are still several issues that are unresolved but Ambassador Schwab and Mr Gref will continue to talk."
"The talks are continuing and will continue in St Petersburg," a source in Gref's ministry told Reuters.
Russia is the biggest economy outside the 149-nation trade body and an accord with the United States would eliminate one of the last remaining obstacles to Moscow's WTO membership.
It would also lend a positive tone to the G8 summit, where Putin is keen to underline what he sees as Russia's growing international authority.
Russia has sought entry to the WTO for more than a decade and Putin has made it one of his top economic priorities.
But a deal with Washington has proved elusive until now, with key issues such as intellectual property rights and access to the agriculture market unresolved.
The Kremlin leader has warned that Russia will not damage its economy to join the body.
Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told Reuters on Thursday he hoped a deal with the United States could be signed within "a day or two".