US Lawmaker Ties Georgia to Russia WTO Bid

Posted October 25th, 2011 at 3:05 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner says Russia will have to settle its border dispute with Georgia before Congress will consider Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

Boehner made the comments Tuesday in a speech before the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group in Washington.

Under WTO rules, any member nation can block a new country from joining the organization.

The United States has backed Russia's entry into the WTO. But for Russia to join, the U.S. Congress must approve the new trade relations.

Boehner, a Republican, said he had seen “alarming reports” that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is willing to accept Georgia's national boundaries as redesigned after its 2008 conflict with Russia.

Tbilisi lost that fight with Moscow, and the breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia remain under Russian influence as a result.

Georgia also opposes Russia's joining the WTO.

Russia first started negotiating 18 years ago for membership in the 153-member trade organization. Russian officials have said they hope to become a member by the end of this year.