Russia has resolved all outstanding issues with the United States over its 17-year-old World Trade Organization entry bid and could well join the WTO next year, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said.

“I can say that the United States has removed all the questions regarding Russia joining the WTO,” Kudrin said.

He said Russia’s accession to the global trade rules body should be agreed within four months at most and that the actual accession procedure could take six to 12 months after that, indicating Russia would likely become a WTO member in 2011.

“I think that (it will be) two-three, at most four months until all the work is completed,” Kudrin told a news briefing on the sidelines of a conference in the Ukrainian Black Sea resort of Yalta.

Kudrin said the United States and Russia had met a deadline set in June by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, who urged officials to resolve remaining obstacles to Russian membership by the end of September.

“We succeeded in doing this,” Kudrin said at the conference. “Now the main burden and completion of work shifts to the working group in Geneva.”

Getting Russia into the WTO is a major goal of the “reset” in Russian-American ties that Obama and Medvedev have pursued.

The leaders discussed the issue in a phone call on Friday.

“The sides stated that, in line with the agreements reached in their talks in Washington, the bilateral talks over Russia’s WTO entry are over,” RIA news agency quoted Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalia Timakova as saying.

“The (Russian) president ordered an invigoration of the multi-lateral talks on Russia’s WTO accession , which will be the concluding stage of joining this organisation.”

U.S. officials said last month that there was good momentum toward membership for Russia, the largest economy outside the 153-nation group.

But Moscow has sent mixed signals to the WTO, clouding its bid with handouts and protectionist measures designed to revive Russian industry. (Reuters)