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Georgia To Consider Ultimatum On Russian Bases

10 March 2005 -- The Georgian parliament is expected today to consider a draft resolution calling on Russia to withdraw from its military bases in Georgia.

Reports say the draft would give the Georgian and Russian governments until 1 May to agree a schedule for the Russian withdrawal from the bases at Akhalkalaki and Batumi.

If no agreement is reached by the deadline, the draft demands a halt to the functioning of the Russian bases by 1 January 2006.

Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili and parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze have urged lawmakers to postpone the debate, saying the Georgian and Russian sides are still examining the issue.

Russia pledged in 1999 to close all its bases in Georgia and has withdrawn from two others so far. But Moscow says it could take 10 or more years to close the remaining two bases.

(Caucasus Press/ITAR-TASS/AFP/AP)