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Clinton, Georgian minister discuss Russia’s joining WTO

September 27, 2011, 5:36 UTC+3

Hillary Clinton and Grigol Vashadze held talks on the sidelines of the 66th UN General Assembly Session

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WASHINGTON, September 27 (Itar-Tass) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Georgia’s Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze held talks on the sidelines of the 66th UN General Assembly Session here Monday, an official at the U.S. Department of State said.

“The Secretary […] saw Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze this morning for about 25 minutes,” a report placed at the Department of State’s official website quoted him as saying.

“The bulk of that meeting was spent discussing the Swiss effort to mediate between Russia and Georgia with regard to issues outstanding in Russia’s application to join the World Trade Organization,” the official said.

“And as she did with Foreign Minister Lavrov last week, Secretary urged Foreign Minister Vashadze to make the most of the Swiss mediation proposal and to try to make progress to close the gaps when the delegations meet in the next week and a half,” the official said.

“They also discussed Afghanistan, where Georgia is on its way to becoming the largest non-NATO troop contributor,” he went on. “The Secretary thanked Foreign Minister Vashadze and Georgia for the recent commitment of an extra battalion of Georgian troops for Afghanistan, which will bring the Georgian total to 1,700.”

“They also talked at some length about medical care and support that the U.S. is providing for Georgian soldiers wounded in combat in Afghanistan and U.S. military support for Georgian forces in Afghanistan.”

“And the final issue in that meeting was the Secretary’s stressing of the importance, as Georgia enters an election season in 2012 and 2013, of free, fair, and transparent elections in Georgia,” the official said.

He indicated that “both Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze and National Security Advisor Bokeria stressed that Georgia intends to make a qualitative leap forward in the quality of its elections” and the thank the U.S. for the help it provides through IRI and NDI “to continue to improve Georgian election process.”

Russia and Georgia resumed talks on Russia’s joining the WTO in March. The negotiations are held in Berne, with Switzerland acting as a mediator.

The most recent meeting between the Russian and Georgian delegations was held in Geneva September 12.

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