MIKHAIL SAAKSHVILI WOULD NOT COME TO MOSCOW FOR VICTORY CELEBRATIONS

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MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will not come to Moscow for the celebrations of the 60th Victory anniversary, Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili has said.

"Mikhail Saakashvili will not be able to come either to the CIS summit on May 8 or to the May 9 celebrations", she said on Friday at the press conference in Moscow on results of the talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"We have not reached progress (at the talks) and in this connection the president of Georgia will not be able to come to the festivities in Moscow because, as we emphasized, something mutually beneficial was expected to happen at these talks. We see that nothing like that is taking place. Therefore, the Georgian president should stay in his country for the 60th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War", Zurabishvili said.

At the talks with the Russian foreign minister, "what she feared has taken place" - the sides have failed to gain mutual understanding in many aspects, she said.

"The progress we expected has not taken place. A large portion of questions we worked on remains unsettled. We have not agreed upon a timeframe of the withdrawal of the Russian bases because, as the Georgian side sees it, a date not later than January 1, 2008 would be preferable", the Georgian foreign minister said, noted that this date is linked to the election campaigns in Georgia and Russia.

"Nor, has a withdrawal of the Akhalkalaki military base prior to 2006 has been coordinated", Zurabishvili added.

At the same time, the question of relocating the Zvezda proving ground, the pullout of heavy machines from the bases, as well as facilities which are not part of the Russian military bases has been settled, she said.

Zurabishvili said that headway has been reached in the delimitation of the Russian-Georgian border.

In 1999 the decision was taken at the OSCE Istanbul summit that Russia is to withdraw its military bases from Georgia. The Vaziani and Gudauta bases have already pulled out. The Akhalkalaki and Batumi bases are still there. The Russian Defense Ministry believes that the troop pullout from Georgia cannot happen earlier than in three to four years to come.

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