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Military train leaves Russia's Batumi base in Georgia

RIA Novosti

31/05/2007 17:58 MOSCOW, May 31 (RIA Novosti) - A military convoy left a Russian military base in Georgia by rail early Thursday as part of a 2006 deal on the withdrawal of Russian bases from the South Caucasus country.

The train, consisting of 32 carriages, is transporting 60 122-mm artillery shells and spare parts to a howitzer, totaling 200 tons of cargo, from the Batumi base on the Black Sea to Russia via Azerbaijan, the Georgian Defense Ministry's press service said.

So far, Russia has sent four military convoys with equipment and ammunition from the 12th military base in Batumi to a Russian base in Gyumri, Armenia.

More military hardware will be removed from Batumi each week until August 2007, the ministry said. The next train from Batumi will depart June 7 via the same route.

According to the agreement between the countries, Russia must complete the removal of its Batumi base in Georgia by the end of 2008.

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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