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Russia, Colombia Sign Trade Deal

Russia has signed a trade deal with Colombia, moving Moscow one step closer to joining the World Trade Organization.

Russian Economy Minister German Gref and Colombia's Trade Minister Jorge Humberto Botero signed the deal Tuesday in Moscow. The agreement allows Colombia easier access to Russian markets for sugar, coffee, bananas, flowers and other Colombian goods.

Russia launched its efforts to join the WTO in 1993. Moscow still must complete negotiations with the United States and Australia as a precondition for joining the 149-member trade body.

Experts say Russia could join the organization by the end of 2007.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.