Bush, Annan see WTO talks at ‘critical stage’ — US official

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2006 (AFP) – US President George W. Bush and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed Monday that World Trade Organization talks were at a "critical stage", a White House official said after the two leaders spoke by telephone.

"Both leaders agreed that the WTO talks were at a critical stage and that the success of the negotiations is a priority," National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones told reporters.

A crucial WTO session in Geneva fizzled out Saturday as a long-standing rift between rich and poor countries appeared to deepen in the Doha Round negotiations on tearing down barriers to global commerce.

Jones said that Bush and Annan also discussed the situations in Israel, Darfur, North Korea and Iran in the call, which was initiated by Annan and lasted nearly half an hour.