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Granting observer status to Iran at WTO discussed in Geneva

Granting the observer status to Iran at the World Trade Organization (WTO) was discussed at the WTO General Assembly in Geneva on Wednesday, IRNA reported from Vienna.

The United States' representative at the meeting said that Washington was still surveying the issue and not ready to announce its stand, or joining those favoring Iran's observership request yet.

Yet, the representatives of the European Union, as well as Switzerland, New Zealand, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt backed Iran in its request to join the WTO as an observer member.

The EU representative at the WTO proposed that Iran's request, as well as the other new applicants for WTO membership be discussed at a session exclusively allocated to the purpose.

The WTO General Assembly in its Wednesday session agreed with Iraq's request for observer membership, and therefore that country's representatives would be able to attend the WTO's sessions as observers from now on.

The Islamic Republic of Iran applied for WTO membership in 2001 for the first time, and Iran's request in that regard has been put forth once every two months at the WTO's regular meetings, and so far rejected, mainly due to the US objections that are mainly politically motivated.

The WTO has 46 members currently.

The European Commission welcomed Wednesday the WTO's decision to grant observer status to Iraq, and expressed hope that Iran would be given similar status "soon."

The decision on Iraq is "something we welcome," said Arancha Gonzalez, spokeswoman for EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy, noting that: "We were among the ones that came out and said that we wanted this to happen."

She also pointed out that the WTO general council had also initiated a process to evaluate Iran's request for observership status.

"This is something we also support .. we hope we can see soon also Iran's request to become a WTO observer accepted by the WTO and all its members," she said.

The EU promotes constructive engagement with Iran, seeking dual track talks on trade and political issues, in contrast notably to the United States.

... Payvand News - 2/12/04 ... --

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