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Agreement on pull out of Russian bases in Georgia signed

Written by: Staff
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Moscow, Mar 31 (UNI) Russia and Georgia today signed an agreement on the withdrawal of Russian bases from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Russian Ground Forces Commander Col Gen Alexei Maslov and Georgian First Deputy Defense Minister Mamuka Kudava signed the agreement, Russian news agencies reported.

Mr Masolov told mediapersons in Sochi that under the agreement a Russian military base near the southern Georgian city of Akhalkalaki will be withdrawn by October 1, 2007.

He also said that another Russian base at Batumi, the capital of the north-western autonomy of Adjaria, and the headquarters of Russian forces in South Caucasus would be withdrawn in 2008.

The agreement will also regulate the transit of military cargoes through Georgian territory, Interfax-AVN reported.

The decision to pull out the Russian military bases in Georgia was taken at the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in Istanbul in 1999.

However, the dispute over the timeframe for the withdrawal caused further deterioration of relations between the two countries.

Tbilisi wanted to see Russian troops leave Georgia as soon as possible, while Moscow insisted that it should be given more time to avoid repeating the mistakes of the pull out from eastern Europe in the 1990s.

Thousands of soldiers then returned to Russia from bases in former Soviet satellite countries only to find that there were not enough quarters for them to live.

''We have fulfilled all obligations under the Istanbul Agreements," Maslov told RIA Novosti news agency.

UNI XC SB DB1812

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