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MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia is likely to enter the World Trade Organization by 2003 or 2004 if it continues to open up its markets, the top European trade official said in Moscow on Wednesday.

Pascal Lamy, part of a European delegation holding talks in Russia, said the European Union supports Russia's 6-year-old bid to join the WTO, according to the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies.

He said the EU is also ready to consider Russia a market economy and revise anti-dumping measures against Russia _ but only if issues that have long plagued relations, including high Russian export duties, dual pricing and incompatible accounting standards, are resolved.

If these key issues are settled, he said it is ``quite likely'' that Russia will join the WTO by 2003-4, the reports said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview released on the Kremlin's Web site Wednesday that reforms to accelerate WTO membership were a top priority.

``We understand that this step is tied not only to advantages but also to additional obligations,'' he said.

Russia's long-stalled WTO bid has enjoyed increased support from the United States in recent months amid Moscow's backing of the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign. Russia's relations with the EU have also warmed recently.