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Premier Upbeat On Georgia-Russia Ties

Washington, 27 April 2004 -- Georgia's Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania says his country's relations with Russia are improving.

Zhvania spoke in Washington yesterday following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"We enjoy now new relations with Russia," Zhvania said. "It's warming up..., but [the] issue of Russian military bases certainly continues to be very important, and we're looking for continuing support from [the] U.S. to [ensure] that Russia fulfills its commitments."

Georgia is seeking the removal of two remaining Russian military bases from its soil.

Last week, Georgia and Russia pledged to enhance cooperation along their land and sea borders, with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili promising to prevent Chechen separatists from using Georgia as a base of operations for attacks against Russian troops.

Discussing his meeting with Zhvania, Secretary of State Powell said they talked about efforts to restore confidence in Georgia's government and political institutions.

Powell said the United States hopes tensions between the Georgian government in Tbilisi and Adjaria can be settled through political and economic measures and without violence.

Powell said he also conveyed U.S. appreciation for Georgia's support in the war against terrorism and in Iraq.