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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RUSSIAN BASES TO BE WITHDRAWN FROM GEORGIA

RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's proposals on withdrawing its military bases from Georgia were made in consideration of the Georgian party's interests, Igor Savolsky, head of the Russian delegation in Russian-Georgian talks on military issues, stated on Wednesday.

In accordance with the Russo-Georgian Statement adopted in Istanbul in November 1999, the parties are holding talks on Russian military presence in Georgia, including military bases, the official said.

"As a result of an agreement the parties reached two military bases, in Viziani and Gudauta, were disbanded and withdrawn according to the schedule. Two bases remaining in Batumi and Akhalkalaki will also be removed, when we reach compromise on the schedule," the diplomat added.

"New proposals drawn up after the February talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Georgian leadership in Tbilisi will be made during a meeting of government delegations on military issues, which will take place in Moscow on March 23-25," the official was quoted as saying.

Savolsky confirmed the possibility of converting the two military bases remaining in Georgia into a joint anti-terror center.

"Such center will have nothing in common with a military base. It will operate in both parties' interests for the cause of combat against the common evil, international terrorism," the diplomat pointed out.

At the same time, Russia suggests that "such center be set up on the basis of the infrastructure of the effective Russian military bases and start operating before the bases are withdrawn from Georgia," Savolsky stated.

Russia hopes for Georgia's quick response to settle differences, which hinder the adjustment of a new draft framework agreement between the two countries.

"We are currently waiting for Georgia's answer. We hope it will not take long and we shall enter the final stage of coordinating the document which is very important for Russian-Georgian relations," the diplomat stressed.

He aggregated that this issue will be prominent on the agenda of bilateral consultations between the countries' foreign ministries that started on Wednesday in Moscow.



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