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Georgia: Abkhazia Declaration May Aid Peace Process

Geneva, 20 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Officials from Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia ended talks in Geneva yesterday by signing a political declaration that aims to push the peace process forward.

RFE/RL's correspondent in Geneva reports that under the U.N.-brokered declaration, both sides have agreed not to use force to resolve their disputes. The declaration also addresses issues of refugees from the war-torn region, as well as economic and social problems that have resulted from the ongoing crisis.

Both sides have agreed to form a coordinating council with several working groups that will start work next month. The council will operate under the chairmanship of a United Nations mediator, and with participation of officials from Russia and the European Union.

Abkhaz separatists drove Georgian government troops out of their Black Sea province in 1993. Talks on a settlement have been stalled over the fate of some 150,000 Georgian refugees who fled the region during the fighting.