Progress in Russian-Georgian talks on bases pullout

RIA Novosti, Russia
May 25 2005


MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian and Georgian delegations
negotiating the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia
achieved certain progress, the press and information department of
the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The May 23-24 talks in Tbilisi
focused on the terms, order of functioning and withdrawal of the
Russian military bases from Georgia’s territory and the current
support for Russian servicemen.

Other Russian-Georgian issues were on the agenda.

“The sides managed to draft mutually acceptable versions of a
possible bilateral statement by the Russian and Georgian presidents.
The remaining issues will be settled through further political
dialogue,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Russian and Georgian delegations were headed by Russian Foreign
Ministry Special Envoy for Relations with the CIS Countries and
Ambassador at Large Igor Savolsky and Georgian Deputy Foreign
Minister Merab Antadze.

There are two Russian military bases in Georgia, in Akhalkalaki (near
the Armenian border) and Batumi (Adzharia). A decision on the
withdrawal of these bases was made at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in
1999. The withdrawal terms became a stumbling block in bilateral
relations. The Russian Defense Ministry said that the troops could be
withdrawn no sooner than in 3-4 years. The Georgian side insisted on
the pullout by January 1, 2008.

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