Putin to lift Georgia sanctions

Move follows Russia's declaration of closer relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Georgia's foreign minister said a Russian offer to normalise relations could have 'no substance' [AFP]
    Flights resumed
     
    Moscow retaliated by cutting all rail, aviation and postal links with the country.
     
    It also imposed restrictions on issuing entry visas to the hundreds of thousands of Georgians who work in Russia.
     
    Last month, Russia resumed passenger flights to Georgia and said it was re-opening shipping links.
     
    On Friday, Mikhail Kaminin, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman, said the Russian president had ordered his government to consult Georgia on allowing the food products back on to the Russian market.
     
    "The [Russian] federal authorities have been assigned to take steps to lift the remaining visa restrictions for Georgian nationals, to speed up the restoration of border crossing at Verkhniy Larc, and to begin bilateral consultations at the experts' level on the issues of access for Georgian goods on the Russian market," Kaminin said.
     
    He said Moscow hoped the authorities in Georgia would recognise the significance of the Russian measures.
     
    'Unacceptable'
     
    But in Tbilisi, the speaker of Georgia's parliament, suggested Moscow was engaged in a dual purpose policy.
     
    Nino Burjanadze said: "I'm afraid that it's something which is signed especially to create some specific attention of the international community concerning this issue.
     
    "Because from one side to speak about normalisation of relations with Georgia and from another side to have some special relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, this is something absolutely unacceptable."
     
    Her comments followed reports from Washington that Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, had called Sergei Lavrov, her Russian counterpart, on Friday to express concern about Moscow's move to strengthen ties with separatist regions of Georgia.
     
    Western states are closely allied to Georgia and suspect Russia of trying to punish the Caucasus nation for its bid to join Nato, a bid actively supported by the US at a recent Nato summit in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
     
    Georgia, a former Soviet republic, has accused Moscow of creeping annexation of the rebel territories since they threw off Tbilisi's control in fighting in the 1990s.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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