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Annan's 'Group of Friends' encouraged by progress in Georgian-Abkhaz peace

22 July Interested countries tapped by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's to review the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process today said they were encouraged by the two sides' constructive engagement on economic, political and security issues, as well as on the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.

A high-level panel of representatives of the Secretary-General's "Group of Friends" for Georgia, which includes France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, met in Geneva over the past two days to review progress in the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process.

The meeting was chaired by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, and attended by Heidi Tagliavini, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Georgia. Representatives of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides were each given an opportunity to share their views today, which the group said, in a press statement afterwards, "significantly enriched" its exchanges.

The Group said members were encouraged by the constructive engagement of the two sides on economic cooperation, internally displaced persons and refugee returns, and political and security matters following its first meeting, at the invitation of the Secretary-General, in February and the subsequent summit in March of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and Georgia.

"They were gratified by the commitment of the two sides to continue their work on specific issues and were pleased to find common ground, which they hope will make substantive progress possible," the statement said.

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