Georgia slashes its diplomatic staff in Moscow

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Moscow, Aug 28 (UNI) Georgia has withdrawn its diplomatic staff reducing the number of diplomats in Moscow to two after the Russia's recognition of breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia earlier this week.

"Georgian Foreign Ministry has decided to reduce to a minimum the number of its diplomats in Russia," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said in reports by Russian news agencies.

Kalandadze said the Georgian Embassy in Moscow, which no longer has an ambassador, "will be represented by Givi Shugarov, with the rank of minister-counselor," acting as charge d'affaires. The Georgian Embassy in Moscow previously had 14 staffers including the ambassador, according to its website.

Russia's Foreign Ministry responded to the Georgian announcement by saying it had no plans to reduce its diplomatic presence in Tbilisi, and that the Georgian move was bound to harm bilateral ties.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, who met with Shugarov yesterday, said it was important to preserve working contacts, in particular through the countries' embassies.

The Georgian parliament's foreign affairs committee approved Tuesday a proposal to sever diplomatic relations with Russia.

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