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Georgia: President Sees Progress In Abkhazia Talks

Tbilisi, 23 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said today that agreement has been reached on some "very important points" in talks last week with its secessionist region of Abkhazia.

In his regular weekly radio address, Shevardnadze, however, added that "gigantic work" still lies ahead.

Shevardnadze praised the mediation of Russia but said that agreement on most difficult issues was reached only in bilateral negotiations.

Relations between Georgia and Russia have deteriorated lately by Georgia's insistence that Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia broaden their role -- or leave altogether. Russia's Duma today voted against a withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers when their mandate expires July 31.