WTO Agrees To Open Membership Talks With Libya

By Agence France-Presse The World Trade Organization's (WTO) 147 member states agreed on July 27 to open membership talks with Libya, diplomats said, marking the start of the lengthy process of bringing the North African country into the global free trade system. The decision was made by the WTO's top decision-making body, the General Council in Geneva, which also rejected Iran's application again due to an enduring eight-year-old opposition from the United States, the source said. WTO decisions require consensus among all 147 members to be carried. Libya lodged its application in 2001, but waited three years before it sought formal approval from the General Council because it feared some countries, notably the United States, might oppose its bid, another source said. "Libya was waiting for the appropriate climate," the source added. Diplomats pointed to the improving political climate between Tripoli and Washington, which accepted last December to lift sanctions against Tripoli in exchange for the dismantlement of Libya's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Negotiations on a country's accession to the WTO generally take many years to complete. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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