WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia has taken "significant
steps" toward joining the World Trade Organization, U.S.
President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart Dmitry
Medvedev in a telephone call Friday, the White House said.

During their meeting in Washington on June 24, the two
presidents set Sept. 30 as a just-passed deadline for Russian
and U.S. negotiators to resolve outstanding bilateral issues
that would ease Russia's entry into the WTO.

"The Russian government has taken and continues to take
significant steps to meet bilateral commitments and to
accelerating multilateral negotiations on Russia's WTO
accession," the White House said in a statement.

The White House cited the passage of legislation, including
changes to laws governing intellectual property rights, as
helping Russia's case.

"President Obama pledged to support Russia's efforts to
complete remaining steps in multilateral negotiations so that
Russia could join the WTO as soon as possible," the statement
said.

The leaders also discussed their interest in getting
legislative approval in both of their countries of the new
START treaty before the end of the year and "their continued
concern for Iran's defiance of its international obligations."

Also discussed was the upcoming referendum in Sudan on the
independence of its oil-producing south.

(Reporting by Ross Colvin and Caren Bohan, editing by Vicki
Allen)