Russia, Georgia resume suspended air links

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Moscow, Mar 25 (UNI) Russia and former Soviet republic of Georgia today resumed air links about 18 months after Moscow suspended all its transport links with Georgia in the wake of an espionage row between the two countries.

The sea transport between Russia and Georgia would be resumed later this week, Russian news agencies reported.

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

Although Moscow cited commercial reasons for the transportation blockade, Tbilisi called the move politically motivated.

Flights will be resumed in line with a bilateral agreement signed in February on the repayment of Georgia's 3.7 million dollars debt to Russia's air traffic regulator.

Georgia's largest airline, Airzena Georgian Airways, on March 10, paid two million dolaars as part repayment of the debt to Russia's State Air Traffic Management Corporation (Rosaeronavigatsia).

The remainder of the debt will be repaid in instalments by several Georgian airlines before the end of the year.

Despite the restoration of air and maritime links, tensions remain high between Moscow and Tbilisi.

Georgian Foreign Ministry said yesterday the Russian State Duma's recent statement on the recognition of Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was direct interference in the country's internal affairs.

The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, last Friday passed a resolution asking the President and the government to consider the issue to recognise the independence of the Georgian breakaway republics.

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