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WTO prepares for crisis talks as India keeps veto on global deal

[GENEVA] India made no sign of dropping its veto on a global trade deal on Tuesday, forcing World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo to announce a week of talks to try to chart the future direction of the Geneva-based body.

India has resisted pressure to give way, insisting that its demand to be allowed to stockpile subsidised food be approved in parallel with the new customs rules. Senior officials at the Indian Trade Ministry have said that New Delhi remains committed to its stance.

Some diplomats had said a WTO meeting on Tuesday was the last chance for India to let a global trade deal go through or other countries would abandon the global talks and split off into smaller groups instead, a development that many experts think would undermine the WTO.

WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said he had never seen a similar situation at the 19-year-old WTO, which has been dogged by "impasse" in trade negotations for a decade. A breakthrough deal last year revived hopes, but India blocked its implementation in July, demanding more concessions. "(There have been) some pretty horrific situations but this is a unique one in its uncertainty and complexity," Mr Rockwell said after Tuesday's General Council meeting, one of the shortest on record.