RUSSIA, GEORGIA BACK TO TALKS ON BASES PULLOUT. GEORGIA'S FOREIGN MINISTRY APPROVES

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TBILISI, June 22 (RIA Novosti's Marina Kvaratskhelia) - Russia and Georgia are getting back to the negotiation table on Russian military bases pullout from Georgia. The latter's Foreign Ministry approved upcoming talks in an official statement.

Bilateral contacts are coming back to normal, and a number of previous understandings on the bases are available. All that gives Georgia ample reasons to hope for headway, now that the two delegations have changed leaders. Negotiation progress, in its turn, will promote the entry into force of the updated CFE, treaty on conventional forces in Europe, this keystone of European security, says the statement.

The negotiators' Moscow session of June 23-24 will be purely informative. The Parties will take stock of tentative ways to settle the problem, and appoint the day for a next round, that time in Tbilisi.

Georgian delegates intend to come up with new initiatives to pace up base withdrawal-in particular, through establishing a joint anti-terror centre for the South Caucasus, the statement goes on.

Leading the Georgian delegation is Merab Antadze, Deputy Foreign Minister.

A pullout agreement on four Russian military bases in Georgia was signed during an OSCE summit in Istanbul, November 17, 1999. Russia has partly complied with it to discard two bases-in Vaziani and Gudauta, Abkhazia. As for the other two, in Akhalkalaki near Tbilisi, and Batumi, the Istanbul agreement requires further Russo-Georgian negotiations on pullout deadlines. Opinions clash on the latter point as Russia insists on eleven years, while Georgia finds three quite enough.

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