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Russia plans to sign a military cooperation and border protection treaty
Russia plans to sign a military cooperation and border protection treaty with Georgia's rebel republic of Abkhazia in early 2009, the Russian foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Russia recognized Abkhazia along with another Georgian breakaway republic South Ossetia as independent states on August 26 after a five-day war with Georgia, which launched an attack on South Ossetia to try and regain control of the region.

Sergei Lavrov said the treaty on regulating military contacts with Abkhazia and joint border protection, as well as a host of other cooperation agreements were being finalized.

"We have agreed to step up the work so that we can sign the documents early next year," Lavrov said at talks with Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba.

Russia's Defense Ministry earlier said it plans to open one base in Gudauta, in the west of Abkhazia, and another in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, which would be fully operational by the end of 2010.

The Russian foreign minister said the talks with his Abkhaz counterpart also focused on trade and economic relations.

Moreover, Lavrov and Shamba signed a memorandum stipulating Russia's readiness to represent the interests of Abkhazia in third-party countries.

"We have signed a memorandum, which in particular stipulates Russia's readiness to represent interests of Abkhazia in third-party countries and promote Abkhazia's cooperation with the international community in general," Lavrov said.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have so far only been recognized by Russia and Nicaragua. Belarus has said it may recognize the breakaway regions in the future, and Venezuela has voiced support for Russia's move.


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