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by Thai Thanh and Le Phong
January 19, 2005

(SGT-Hanoi) Vietnamese negotiators left for Beijing yesterday for bilateral talks about their country's bid to join the Word Trade Organization (WTO).

Before flying out of Hanoi the team's number two man siad the talks would conclude by the weekend and refused to speculate on the outcome.

"I cannot say anything about it" Tran Quoc Khanh from the Trade Ministry told the Daily at Noi Bai Airpot.

At the conclusion of Vietnam's multilateral negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland last month Hoang Phuoc Hiep, who heads the Justice Ministry's International Law Department, reckoned the Vietnam should concentrate on China and spend the most WTO negotiating time with the northern neighbor.

After reporting the outcome of October's China-Vietnam talks, the chief Chines negotiator in Geneva only said the two sides should talk more about certain conditions that Vietnam has yet to fulfill and which wwere of conern to China, Hiep said.

Besides China, Vietnam should have many rounds of WTO negotiations with other big trading partners like the United States, Japan and Australia.

Yasukata Fukahori, head of the Economic Board of the Japanese Embassy at Hanoi, told local reporters last month that the Japan-Vietnam talks would happen in January.

He said Japan was waiting for an official reply from Vietnam to the conditions it sent out in September. Vietnam and Japan had no bilateral talks in Geneva last month.

To join the WTO besides multilateral negotiations, Vietnam should negotiate mutually with 28 trading partners.

So far, Vietnam has concluded only seven agreements including one with the European Union in October.