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Georgian Envoy Wants New Format For Russia Talks

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (left) and new envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze (right) in Tbilisi on November 1.
The new Georgian prime minister's envoy to Russia says talks with Moscow should be held in a new format.

Zurab Abashidze told RFE/RL that "a new, independent format for Moscow-Tbilisi talks" should be adopted "to discuss a broader range of issues: security, regional issues, the economy and trade ties."

According to Abashidze, it is up to Moscow to accept that format, which could include talks on Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Abashidze added that Tbilisi has no immediate plans for restoring diplomatic relations with Moscow.

He took up his envoy post on November 1 after being appointed by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Tbilisi broke diplomatic ties with Moscow after a Russian-Georgian military conflict in August 2008.

The next month, Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In the RFE/RL interview, Abashidze said Georgia was ready to talk to Russia about "subjects that do not cause any negative emotions on either side and that are easier to solve."

He named those as "humanitarian, trade, and economic issues, but also security issues facing both Georgia and Russia -- terrorism and arms trafficking."

When asked about Georgia's official position regarding the 2014 Winter Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia, Abashidze said "no final decision has been made on whether Georgia will take part in these Games."