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Fifth truck convoy leaves Russian military base in Georgia

RIA Novosti

30/05/2007 16:03 TBILISI, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - The fifth military convoy left a Russian military base in Georgia Wednesday as part of a 2006 deal on the withdrawal of Russian military bases from the South Caucasus country, a spokesman for Georgia's Defense Ministry said.

"The truck convoy crossed the Georgian border mid-afternoon Moscow time (8.00 a.m. GMT) and headed to the Russian military base in Gyumri in Armenia," the official said.

The Akhalkalaki base located in a region with largely ethnic Armenian population will be completely withdrawn before the end of the year, while the base in the Black Sea port of Batumi is to close by the end of 2008.

Russia has agreed to dispatch five truck convoys and 10 trains to withdraw the remaining equipment from the Akhalkalaki base by the yearend.

Russia completed the pullout 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 is seeking to join NATO, is uneasy about Russia's continued military presence, and has repeatedly urged Moscow to close its Soviet-era bases.

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