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Saakashvili Wants Return of Abkhazia, S.Ossetia

RIA Novosti

17:35 03/03/2012

TBILISI, March 3 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said that Russian-Georgian diplomatic relations would be fully restored if Russia withdrew troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and annulled its recognition of independence of the breakaway republics, Novosti-Georgia news agency reported on Saturday.

“We automatically broke diplomatic relations with Russia after the well-known events in August 2008. And we will automatically restore them as soon as Russia recognizes our sovereignty and the borders of the united Georgia,” Saakashvili said, referring to the Russian-Georgian conflict in 2008 when Moscow recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another self-proclaimed republic, Abkhazia, while Tbilisi declared them occupied territories.

“If Russia wants a dialogue, it must hold it with Georgian people, for whom a deoccupation of Georgian territory is the only condition for talks,” Saakashvili added.

Earlier on Tuesday Saakashvili signed a decree that unilaterally abolished visas for Russians travelling to Georgia.

The decree that came into force on Wednesday, allows Russian citizens to stay in Georgia for up to 90 days without visas.

Saakashvili said that Georgia had scrapped visas for Russians to make it easier for “Russian citizens of Georgian decent to meet with their relatives” and to attract Russian investment to Georgia.

Russia-Georgia relations have been at a low since the 2008 war over Georgia's breakaway territory of South Ossetia. However, last year, the two countries signed a landmark trade deal, which allowed Russia to join the World Trade Organization after 18 years of negotiations.

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