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Georgian President Vows to Regain Control Of Abkhazia

Tbilisi, 12 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today vowed to regain full control of the breakaway region of Abkhazia through peaceful means.

Speaking to reporters in Tbilisi, Saakashvili said he will ensure a peaceful settlement to the long-standing conflict. He said his new government favors dialogue with Abkhazia's leadership.

Abkhazia is a mountainous territory in northwestern Georgia on the Black Sea coast bordering Russia. It declared independence from Georgia about 10 years ago following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Last year, Abkhaz Prime Minister Raul Hadzhimba said Abkhazia is determined to remain independent.

Russia, which maintains a military presence in the area, says it views Abkhazia "as a part of Georgia."