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Second military convoy leaves Russian base in Georgia

RIA Novosti

19/04/2007 13:57 TBILISI, April 19 (RIA Novosti) - A second military convoy carrying equipment left a Russian military base in Georgia early Thursday, a RIA Novosti correspondent said.

Russia's Defense Ministry resumed the withdrawal of its military bases from Georgia last week under the 2006 agreement between the Georgian and Russian governments.

The military convoy, consisting of 12 trucks, left the Akhalkalaki base in the south of the country heading for Gyumri (Armenia), where the 102nd Russian military base is located, the reporter said.

The Akhalkalaki base is to be completely evacuated before the end of the year, while its base in the Black Sea port of Batumi is to close by the end of 2008. The next convoy to leave Akhalkalaki is scheduled for April 27.

Russia completed the withdrawal of its military garrison from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, handing over control of its headquarters to Georgia's Defense Ministry, last December.

Thirteen of the garrison's 387 personnel will remain in Georgia overseeing the withdrawal of Russia's two Soviet-era bases.

Georgia's Western-leaning leadership, which seeks to join NATO, is uneasy about Russia's continued military presence, and has repeatedly urged Moscow to close its Soviet-era bases.

Russia has agreed to dispatch five truck convoys and ten trains to withdraw the remaining equipment from the Akhalkalaki base by the yearend.

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