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Georgia To Impose Economic Sanctions On Adjaria

Tbilisi, 16 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said Georgia will impose an economic blockade around the Adjaria province.

Saakashvili made the statement after Adjaria's leaders failed to meet a deadline last night to recognize the authority of Georgia's central government in Tbilisi.

Saakashvili, who was prevented by armed forces from entering Adjaria on 14 March, said Georgia would impose a land, air, and sea blockade of the region, including of the Batumi port's oil terminal.

He described the measures as temporary and aimed at cutting off financial support for Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze.

Abashidze has declared a curfew in the autonomous region amid the rising tensions.

The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Colin Powell had spoken by telephone with Saakashvili and urged the Georgian leader not to let the situation escalate.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Powell had also spoken about the situation with Russian national security adviser Igor Ivanov.

Russia, which maintains a military base in Adjaria, has warned Saakashvili against the use of force to resolve the situation.