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Envoy casts doubt on acceptance of Iran's application to WTO

Tehran, May 21, IRNA-The Iran Plenipotentiary Office in the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in Tehran on Saturday that likelihood of acceptance of Iran's new application to join the world trade body is hard to predict. Tehran is to submit its request on the WTO's May 26th session.

Esfandiar Omid Bakhsh told IRNA that given the Iran-EU discussions underway any prejudgment on Iran application to the WTO is "irrelevant." He said the EU has been a supporter of Iran' s bid to join the WTO.

Although some statements by the US officials have indicated that Washington may not oppose Iran's application, "but, we have to wait and sees what happens at the session," he added.

The final tests will be better known in the future. "We have to wait until the session's opening because at that time, potential support can be better gauged." On views expressed on WTO's secretariat pledging cooperation with Tehran, he said that the secretariat has no role in evaluating applications and its primary tasks is mainly geared towards consulting and training issues.

At the latest round of Iran's request to joint the WTO in December, Tehran excused the Europeans for failing to rival US challenge to its bid to join WTO, saying the Europeans were simply 'out-powered' by the Americans.

"The Europeans backed (Iran), but their power did not match (that of the Americans)," Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters here.

"They (the Europeans) made their efforts, but it was apparently above their capacity; however, this was not very unexpected to us," he added.

Iran's efforts to join the multilateral organization have been stymied 20 times by the United States in recent years.

Also, in December the World Trade Organization agreed to begin accession talks with Iraq and Afghanistan, but the United States again blocked any such negotiations with Iran.

Washington reportedly said it was studying the request -- the same answer it has given for the past three years.

Iran had raised its expectations this time around after receiving promises from the Europeans to help the country join the World Trade Organization.

"This (accession) requires a consensus, but what it important is that the Europeans should pressure the Americans and oblige it to this important fact (to accept Iran's entry)," Asefi said.

In a dramatic U-turn last month, the United States offered to allow Iran to start talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and consider letting it buy civilian airliner parts as part of incentives to Tehran over its nuclear cooperation.

... Payvand News - 5/22/05 ... --

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