Georgia needs no mediators to end standoff with Russia - FM

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Georgia needs no mediators to end the crisis in relations with Russia, the South Caucasus country's foreign minister said Tuesday, in advance of his official visit to Moscow.
BAKU, October 31 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia needs no mediators to end the crisis in relations with Russia, the South Caucasus country's foreign minister said Tuesday, in advance of his official visit to Moscow.

The ex-Soviet neighbors are entangled in an intense diplomatic standoff, which has led several countries including the U.S. to urge them to calm the situation, and prevent tensions spiraling out of control.

Gela Bezhuashvili told reporters in Baku in response to a question on Azerbaijan's possible mediation: "In our relations with Russia, we need no mediators; we will try ourselves to bring our relations to the level where they should be."

The ongoing diplomatic feud began when Georgian authorities arrested four Russian officers on spying charges in late September. Although they were soon released, Russia has suspended transport and mail links with Georgia, cracked down on businesses allegedly related to the Georgian mafia in the country, and deported hundreds of Georgians who were accused of residing illegally in Russia.

Georgia's foreign minister said after a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov that the Russian issue had been an inevitable part of the talks.

Bezhuashvili, along with Georgia's state minister for conflict resolution, Merab Antadze, will arrive in Moscow Wednesday for a two-day session of an economic alliance of Black Sea countries.

Georgia's president said earlier the foreign minister's visit to Moscow is aimed at resuming full-fledged dialogue between the two countries. The minister is expected to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Bezhuashvili said a visit by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to Moscow was not yet on the cards, but did not rule out any kind of contact with the Russian side at upcoming summit of the heads of states of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Minsk in late November.

Before the current crisis, relations between Russia and its small mountainous neighbor had already been strained. The Georgian leadership accuses Russia of attempting to annex its two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Russian troops have been stationed since bloody conflicts in the areas after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

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