The United States and Russia have signed a key trade agreement that moves Moscow close to membership in the World Trade Organization after more than a decade of negotiations.
Senior U.S. and Russian trade officials signed the deal Sunday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The agreement was reached hours before U.S. President George Bush was to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the summit.
Russia is the largest economy to remain outside of the W.T.O., an organization that sets the rules for global trade. Moscow has been trying to join the trade body since 1994 by seeking the approval of 149 existing members.
Russia's trade deal with the United States removes the last major obstacle to its membership of the W.T.O.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.