Russia optimistic about quick WTO deal with US

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush before the weekend summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations in St. Petersburg.

The United States is the last commercial power holding out on approval for Moscow's WTO accession bid. Talks have been slowed by disagreement over rules governing access for foreign financial services firms, agricultural subsidies and Russia's enforcement of intellectual property rights, the AP reports.

The U.S. ambassador to Moscow, William Burns, said Monday that Russian and U.S. officials had narrowed some of their differences in WTO talks. He voiced hope that the deal could be reached "very, very soon," but would not say whether that could happen before or during the presidents' meeting.

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