MILAN - The U.S. is slow in reaching a negotiating position in the Doha round trade liberalization talks, the World Trade Organisation's Director General said in an Italian business daily on Tuesday.

In an interview in Il Sole 24 Ore, Pascal Lamy said that after a year spent putting in place the new U.S. administration, next year's U.S. mid-term elections could prove a further problem in finalizing the Doha talks.

The U.S. is proving to be slow in reaching a clear and articulated negotiating position... the problem is that in 2010 there will be mid-term elections, he said in the interview.

International trade, that up to now has avoided a wave of protectionism that could have come with the economic cycle, has not succeeded in detaching itself from the American political cycle, he said.

More broadly on the round, he said the time does not seem adequate for completing the WTO round given time required for international talks on disarmament and climate change.

Trade ministers are due to meet in Geneva at the end of the month to assess progress in the Doha round talks.

On a recovery in world trade, Lamy said it is too soon to say if this trend will continue given the recent pick-up has been spurred by technical factors linked to inventories.

The number of trade disputes in 2009 will be well below the annual average of about 20-30, he said adding the WTO will publish a monitoring report on this at the end of November.

(Writing by Nigel Tutt; Editing by Neil Fullick)