Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze convened a meeting of the National Security Council late on 11 February, Caucasus Press reported. Participants discussed possible courses of action following the failure of Russian and Georgian officials to reach agreement at talks in Moscow last week on the extension of the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 2003). The force's mandate expired on 31 December, and the Security Council ruled on 26 January that Georgia will approve its renewal only on condition that the conflict zone is expanded to encompass all of Gali Raion and that Russia halt the commuter-train service between Sochi and the Abkhaz capital, Sukhum, and the granting of Russian citizenship to residents of Abkhazia. No final decision was made at the 11 February meeting, but Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharshvili and Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze were charged with renewing talks with the Russian side. Caucasus Press quoted Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze as saying Moscow has already suspended granting Russian citizenship to the Abkhaz, which she described as "a positive step." She predicted that Russia would also agree to Georgia's remaining conditions. LF
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