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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will meet with Georgia's president
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will meet with Georgia's president in New York on Tuesday for talks expected to focus on the ex-Soviet state's breakaway regions.

Mikheil Saakashvili's visit to the U.S. comes at a tense time for Georgia, with its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia urging the international community to recognize their independence following the example of Kosovo.

Irakly Alasaniya, Georgia's envoy to the UN, earlier said Saakashvili and the UN chief would discuss the situation in Abkhazia, UN monitoring of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, and Russia's recent lifting of economic sanctions against the province.

On March 19, the Georgian leader will hold talks with U.S. President George Bush and a separate meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia February 17 prompted the parliaments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in early March to request that Russia's parliament, the UN and other organizations recognize their independence.

Since the unilateral declaration by Pristina, the United States and 18 of the 27 EU states have recognized the Republic of Kosovo. Russia, China, Spain, Cyprus and several other countries have refused to recognize its independence.

Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were involved in bloody conflicts with Georgia after proclaiming independence following the split-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.


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