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Abkhazia Wants Security Guarantees From Georgia

24 January 2006 -- Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said today that Sergei Bagapsh, the leader of the unrecognized Black Sea separatist republic, is ready to meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili provided Tbilisi commits itself to not resume military hostilities.

Shamba made the comments at the outcome of UN-sponsored security talks with Georgian Minister for Conflict Resolution Giorgi Khaindrava in Abkhazia's southern Gali district.

The meeting was aimed at defusing tension in the region following a series of armed incidents that claimed the lives of several civilians.

Georgia blames separatist forces for the unrest. Abkhazia in turn accuses Georgian paramilitary units of escalating tension with a view to force the departure of Russian peacekeepers.

Russian troops have been stationed in Gali since Abkhazia forcibly won de facto independence from Georgia in the early 1990s.

(Novosti-Gruziya, Regnum, Apsnypress)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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