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Saakashvili Hails Agreement On Russian Troop Withdrawal


http://gdb.rferl.org/B976C064-F343-42AF-9C02-CEEF5728F87A_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/B976C064-F343-42AF-9C02-CEEF5728F87A_mw800_mh600.jpg President Saakashvili (file photo) Tbilisi, 31 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has hailed an agreement reached with Russia to pull its remaining forces out of Georgia by 2008.

Speaking to reporters late last night in Tbilisi, Saakashvili said the deal was a "historic event that meets the interests of both countries."

The deal was announced in Moscow by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks there with Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili.

Zourabichvili called it an "important and constructive step," and said Georgia had achieved its goal. The deputy commander of Russian troops in the southern Caucasus said the process of withdrawal of the military bases would begin in August of this year.

Russia currently has two Soviet-era bases in Georgia, whose continued presence has been a source of tension between Moscow and Tbilisi.

(AP/AFP/Reuters, RFE/RL's Georgian Service)
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