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Russia continues military pullout from Georgia

RIA Novosti

28/06/2007 11:26 MOSCOW, June 28 (RIA Novosti) - A train carrying military hardware left a Russian base in Georgia early Thursday as part of a 2006 deal on the withdrawal of Russian bases from the ex-Soviet state, a senior military official said.

Igor Konashenkov, an aide to the Russian Ground Forces commander, said the military convoy consisting of 34 carriages and carrying about 900 metric tons of cargo, left the Batumi base on the Black Sea and headed for Gyumri in neighboring Armenia, where Russia retains its Military Base 102.

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. Russia also formally handed over its military base at Akhalkalaki in southern Georgia to Tbilisi Wednesday.

Konashenkov also said that another military convoy would leave the Batumi base in early July.

According to the agreement between the countries, Russia must complete the removal of its bases in the South Caucasus country 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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