GENEVA — The World Trade Organization’s ruling General Council agreed Monday for entry talks to begin with war-ravaged Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mohammed Mustafa Al-Jibouri, Iraq’s minister of trade, told the agency’s 148-member countries the decision of accepting the accession request is another sign of support by the international community.

The Iraqi official said the accession talks “will help bring stability and security to my country, which has suffered a lot and still is.” He said the bid would help Iraq’s efforts to reform its oil-rich economy.

Similarly, the ambassador of Afghanistan, Assad Omer, told delegates his country’s participation in the global trade system would lead to more trade and investment. He said Afghanistan’s two decades of war had cost the land-locked country about $240 billion.

Linnet Deily, deputy U.S. trade representative, and other delegates welcomed the successful requests. However, the U.S., backed by Israel, blocked for the 21st time a similar entry talks request by Iran.

Many other rich and developing nations and entities, including the European Union, Norway, India and China, supported the bid by Tehran. Other countries in the midst of entry talks include Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

This story first appeared in the December 14, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.