Georgia pays $2 million debt to resume air traffic with Russia

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Moscow, Mar 10 (UNI) Airzena Georgia Airways, the largest air carrier of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, today paid Russia two million dollars as part of a debt to resume air transport between the two countries.

''We have repaid part of the debt,'' a spokesperson for the Georgian carrier told RIA Novosti news agency.

''It is now up to the Ministry of Economic Development to decide who will repay the remainder,'' she said.

An agreement on repaying the 3.7 million dollars debt to Russia's State Air Traffic Management Corporation (Rosaeronavigatsia) was reached during a two-day visit to Moscow last month by a Georgian government delegation for talks on resuming flights.

Moscow imposed a transportation and postal blockade on Georgia in October 2006 in an apparent retaliation for the detention on espionage charges of four Russian army officers.

Russian officials cited commercial reasons, however, saying that Georgian airlines owed more than three million dollars for air traffic services.

Tbilisi called the move politically motivated.

Last month the Russian Federal Air Navigation Service said the country was ready to resume air flights to and from Georgia from March 30 after Georgia pays off two million dollars on March 10.

The relations between Russia and Georgia have further worsened in the wake of Moscow lifting trade and economic sanctions on the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, last week.

Georgia's both breakaway regions have requested Russia, UN and other international bodies to recognise their independence, after Kosovo declared unilateral independence on February 17.

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