Georgia

Abkhazia: Georgian, Russian Presidents meet

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Eduard Shevardnadze met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Kyiv on 28 January on the sidelines of the informal CIS summit, Caucasus Press reported. The talks lasted over two hours instead of the planned 40 minutes. Putin told journalists afterward that the passenger-train service that resumed last month between the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi and Sukhum will be suspended until the gradual repatriation of the Georgian displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war gets under way. The suspension of the train service was one of three conditions that the Georgian National Security Committee set on 26 January before Georgia would agree to the renewal of the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed since 1994 under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 2003). Shevardnadze said that the CIS summit participants might decide on 29 January on a renewal of the peacekeepers' mandate. Putin characterized his talks with Shevardnadze as "productive" and "useful," while Shevardnadze noted there are still "some unresolved issues" in bilateral relations, according to ITAR-TASS. LF
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