The Georgian displaced persons who since early January have been blocking traffic across the bridge over the Inguri River that marks the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 8 January 2003) agreed to abandon that protest after their representatives met on 19 February with U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Miles and Georgian State Minister Avtandil Djorbenadze, Caucasus Press reported. Miles hailed the Georgian leadership's recent decision to prolong for a further six months the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 February 2003). He said that during those six months the United States will seek to expedite a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict that would enable the displaced persons to return to Abkhazia. Speaking in Sukhum on 19 February, Major General Kazi Ashfaq Ahmed, who commands the unarmed UN Observer Mission in Georgia, likewise expressed satisfaction that Georgia has agreed to prolong the CIS peacekeepers' mandate, Caucasus Press reported. LF
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