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Washington Willing To Finance Russian Troop Withdrawal From Georgia

Tbilisi, 13 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A top U.S. official today said that Washington is prepared to finance the withdrawal of Russian troops remaining in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lynn Pascoe made his remarks in Tbilisi, where he is trying to help Georgian officials rescue the country from economic ruin.

Pascoe said Washington wants Russia, as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to honor its OSCE commitments to withdraw military forces from areas they are not wanted.

Russia still has two military bases in Georgia. Georgia says it wants those bases closed within three years. Russia previously has pledged to pull out, but says the withdrawal will take at least 11 years.

Russia meanwhile has warned Georgia that any violent action taken against the Russian military bases and their personnel would have "far-reaching consequences."