Russia, Georgia swap prisoners

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Moscow, Aug 19 (UNI) Russia and Georgia today exchanged prisoners captured by both sides during the recent military conflict over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The exchange of prisoners took place near Georgia's capital Tbilisi, a day after a similar deal failed to go ahead, the Russian Defence Ministry told RIA Novosti news agency.

Moscow handed over 13 Georgian military personnel and two civilians, in exchange for five Russians, among them two pilots, said Colonel Igor Konashenkov, an aide to Russia's Ground Forces commander.

The prisoner exchange took place in Igoeti, a town located some 40 km from Tbilisi at 1100 hrs local time.

The deal was initially scheduled for yesterday, however, the talks failed when Georgian negotiators walked out after making requests ''unrelated'' to the exchange, a senior military official said.

Georgia's Defence Ministry accused Russia of failing to provide an accurate list of prisoners.

Lt Col Andrei Bobrun, an aide to the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, said Russia was to hand over 11 Georgians. The Georgian Defence Ministry later requested the number be increased to 15.

The Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Col Gen Anatoly Nogovitsyn yesterday said, ''We had planned an exchange of 15 Georgian for 12 Russian troops.'' UNI XC SKB HS1542

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