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Georgia, Russia Vow To Repair Relations Through Talks

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo) (AFP) March 20, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Russia and Georgia today vowed to repair bilateral ties through enhanced dialogue.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement says current bilateral relations "do not match the centuries-long tradition of friendship and good neighborly relations that have existed between the peoples of Russia and Georgia."

It says Russia is ready to enhance cooperation with Georgia with a view to sustaining regional peace and stability.

The statement was issued after Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met with members of Georgia’s ruling party in Moscow.

The head of the Georgian delegation, Deputy Parliament Speaker Mikheil Machavariani, positively assessed the meeting.

"Current relations between Georgia and Russia are uneasy. We believe dialogue will help begin settling the problems that, unfortunately, have already accumulated and continue to accumulate, with no immediate solution in sight. This is why we believe [today's meeting] is an important step."

Bilateral relations started improving after Mikheil Saakashvili became Georgia’s president in early 2004. But they soon deteriorated again after Saakashvili ordered troops into Georgia's separatist republic of South Ossetia, which has close ties with Russia.

(with material from ITAR-TASS, Civil Georgia, Imedi TV)

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