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Putin Congratulates Georgia's President-Elect

Moscow, 15 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today congratulated Mikheil Saakashvili on winning Georgia's presidential election earlier this month.

A Kremlin statement says Putin expressed hope that Russian-Georgian relations will develop "on the basis of good-neighborliness, in the interests of strengthening stability and security in the Caucasus."

The Russian leader reaffirmed his invitation to Saakashvili to visit Moscow. The president-elect won more than 96 percent of votes cast according to official figures announced today.

Thirty-six-year-old Saakashvili is due to be inaugurated on 25 January, becoming Europe's youngest head of state. Saakashvili's pledge to restore Tbilisi's control over two separatist regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- are areas of possible friction with Moscow, which backs the regions.