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Russia Says WTO Terms Must Be Favorable

The speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament (the Duma), Boris Gryzlov, says his country may postpone its bid to join the World Trade Organization if membership terms prove unfavorable.

However, in separate comments, Russia's chief trade negotiator Maxim Medvedkov expressed optimism that the WTO negotiations will be resolved in a matter of months.

The remarks come one day after U.S. Senate majority leader Bill Frist said Washington's support for Russian WTO membership will depend on that country's stance on democratic issues and Iran's nuclear program.

Russia has been holding WTO membership talks since 1993, but has yet to reach agreement with several members, including the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Washington of holding up membership.

The United States in 1974, under the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment, linked trade relations with the former Soviet Union to that country's easing of limitations on human rights, especially those involving emigration. The legislation remained in effect for the Soviet successor states.