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  Thursday, February 20, 2020
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Russia hopes to achieve progress on the terms of the withdrawal of its military bases from Georgia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it opening the talks with his Georgian counterpart on Monday. We follow the instructions of our leaders and should justify their trust, he said. The Russian and Georgian foreign ministers maintain regular contacts on this issue while our experts work even harder, Lavrov added. Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili said she was happy the negotiations on the bases were coming to an end. "However, it does not mean that we shall not work intensely on other issues," she added. According to the minister, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili gave her certain instructions last Sunday which may help achieve success at the talks. The press and information department of the Russian Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti on Monday that Lavrov and Zurabishvili were to discuss a document on the development of Russian-Georgian relations, particularly, the functioning and withdrawal of the Russian military bases from Georgia. Military delegations of the two countries discussed the pullout before the Lavrov-Zurabishvili meetings and coordinated many aspects. The two ministers should agree on the terms of the withdrawal of the Russian bases, the department said. There are two Russian military bases in Georgia today - in Batumi and Akhalkalaki. The decision on their pullout was made at the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) summit in Istanbul in 1999. The pullout terms became a stumbling block in Russian-Georgian relations. The Russian Defense Ministry planned to withdraw troops no sooner than in 3-4 years. The Georgian side insisted that it should be dome by January 1, 2008. Georgian capital Tbilisi hosted a regular round of the withdrawal negotiations on May 23-24. After that, Russian Foreign Ministry ambassador at large Igor Savolsky who headed the Russian delegation told journalists that the sides managed to achieve an agreement on the withdrawal terms.
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