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Saakashvili Says Bombing Arrests Should Not Affect Ties With Russia

President Saakashvili (file photo) 25 July 2005 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today praised his country's security forces for detaining suspects in the 1 February Gori car-bomb attack that killed three policemen.

But said the arrests should not be detrimental to Tbilisi's security cooperation with Moscow.

Earlier today, Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said three men had been arrested over the blast and accused a Russian intelligence army officer identified as Anatolii Sysoev of organizing a group of saboteurs allegedly responsible for the bombing.

Addressing an emergency security meeting in Tbilisi, Saakashvili said that although the probe indicates other Russian citizens were involved in the blast, he does not want relations with Moscow to deteriorate.

"I would like to stress that, although there are clear indications that foreign citizens were involved in these operations -- and we have ample documented evidence of that -- I want everyone to know that we all have that information, but that we don't want to use it for confrontation," Saakashvili said. "We don't want cooperation with Russia [in antiterror fight] to turn into confrontation. We want full cooperation with the Russian Federation, its appropriate services and their heads, and the Russian government on issues related to the fight against terrorism."

Russia has denied any involvement in the Gori bombing, which took place near Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

South Ossetia also rejected accusations that Russian-trained saboteurs were operating from its territory against Georgian interests.

(Imedi TV/Civil Georgia/Novosti-Gruziya)

See also:

Georgian Minister Says Russian Officer Organized Saboteurs

Georgian President Calls Bomb 'Political Terrorism'