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Kremlin Aide: Russia May Freeze Trade Talks With US

An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia may put trade talks with the United States on indefinite hold, if negotiators fail to make progress towards Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Kremlin aide Igor Shuvalov said the bilateral talks are approaching a point after which Moscow will be unable to make further concessions to gain WTO entry. The United States is the only major country blocking Russian accession.

Washington has been seeking a greater presence in Russia's financial sector, greater access to Russian markets for meat products, and tighter Russian protections for U.S. intellectual property rights.

For its part, Moscow has pushed U.S. officials to lower subsidies to American farmers that allow U.S. products to be sold cheaply on world markets.

President Bush's ability to enact so-called fast-track trade legislation without Congressional approval ends in 2007. Analysts say he is not likely to impose any cuts in agricultural subsidies with presidential elections looming in 2008.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.