Establish links with Georgia's breakaway regions: Putin

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Moscow, Apr 16 (UNI) Outgoing Russian President has ordered the government to establish close links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the breakaway regions of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

The official spokesman for Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement today that the social, trade and economic cooperation was intended to help the region's population, including the Russian citizens.

''We are finalising a list of documents which the local authorities will be able to issue to people in Abkhazia and South Ossetia,'' Mr Kamynin said stressing that the help would be of a practical nature.

The Foreign Ministry's announcement came after the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of its observer mission in the region.

''The Foreign Ministry's offices in Russia's southern Krasnodar region will provide consular help to the Russian citizens in those breakaway regions,'' Mr Kamynin said.

Mr Kamynin also said the Russian offices will help citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in civil, family and legal issues.

The step was not meant to irritate Georgia or the UN in any way, he added.

Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikeil Saakashvili has called for an emergency meeting of the Georgian Security Council to discuss the Russian policies in the region.

Tbilisi has warned Moscow not to take any step towards recognising the two rebel republics as independent.

Last month, both regions called on the United Nations to acknowledge their independence.

Mr Kamynin's statement did not refer to independence and stressed that there was no intention to inflame the situation.

''Our actions with regard to Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not mean that Russia is making a choice in favour of confrontation with Georgia,'' the statement said.


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