A top Bush administration official on Tuesday played down any connection between Russia's military action in Georgia and Moscow's long-term bid to join the World Trade Organization.
"We've worked with Russia in terms of the WTO accession and they still have a ways to go. So it's not as though they're close to it. They still have some work to do before they get to it," U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said in an interview with Reuters.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has called for a review of Russia's bid to join the WTO after Moscow took military action against Georgia in a conflict over South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia.
"We should ... convene other international forums to condemn this aggression, to call for an immediate halt to the violence and to review multilateral and bilateral arrangements with Russia -- including Russia's interest in joining the World Trade Organization," Obama said.
Gutierrez's comment that Russia was not close to finishing its WTO membership bid was at odds with other recent Bush administration statements.
The full Obama statement is here: http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/laurinmanning/gG5bh2