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Georgia: President Shevardnadze To Meet Separatist Leader

Vladikavkaz, Russia; 27 August 1996 -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has begun talks with the chairman of separatist South Ossetia's supreme council Ludvig Chibirov.

The talks are being held in the city of Vladikavkaz, capital of Russia's North Ossetian republic, and are aimed at restoring peace between Tbilisi and the breakaway region.

Also taking part in the meeting are North Ossetian President Akhsarbek Galazov, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and the head of the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Georgian mission, Dieter Boden.

South Ossetia has been seeking secession from Tbilisi since Georgia declared independence in April, 1991. Earlier this month, a top Georgian official said South Ossetia could be granted special political status if South Ossetian leaders recognize the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Irakly Machavariani, Shevardnadze's representative in charge of settling regional conflicts, also said that any special status will depend on South Ossetia's abandoning notions of uniting with the North Ossetian Republic.