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Abkhaz President Makes Non-Aggression Pact A Precondition For Talks

(RFE/RL) 15 December 2005 -- The president of the separatist republic of Abkhazia says he will meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili only if Saakashvili makes a written pledge to not resume military hostilities.

Saakashvili on 14 December indicated that he was ready to meet with Sergei Bagapsh "without any preconditions and at any time." But Bagapsh today said he will not meet his Georgian counterpart unless Saakashvili first agrees to sign a pact of non-aggression.

Saakashvili has vowed to peacefully restore Georgia's territorial integrity, but Abkhazia fears he may resort to force to achieve his goal.

Abkhazia forcibly won de facto independence in the early 1990s. It has close ties with Russia, which has kept peacekeepers in the region since 1994.

Bagapsh today warned that if Georgia forces Russian troops out of Abkhazia, they would be replaced with Abkhaz troops.

Bagapsh also reiterated his opposition to the deployment of a mixed peacekeeping contingent in the conflict zone. He said his government insists that Russian troops remain deployed in the area until a peace agreement with Tbilisi is reached.

Georgia accuses Russian peacekeepers of siding with Abkhazia and is threatening to demand their withdrawal.

Georgia's national military doctrine, which was made public earlier this month, lists Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia among the threats to the country's security.

(RAI Novosti)

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