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    TBILISI, January 13th, 2004 (RIA Novosti -Georgia correspondent Georgy Kupatadze) - The United States is ready to offer assistance in Russian bases' pullout from Georgia, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Lynn Pascoe said at a press conference in Tbilisi on January 13.

    In particular, when asked whether the US would finance the pullout of Russian bases from Georgia in case a relevant agreement is reached between Russia and Georgia, Lynn Pascoe said the US did so before and would do it again.

    Within the OSCE, a country's troops should not be stationed at a place where they are unwelcome, said Lynn Pascoe.

    He added that in line with its obligations assumed at the Istanbul summit of the OSCE (1999), Russia was to withdraw two bases from Georgia in 2000 and set the deadline for pulling out the remaining two bases.

    Two bases have been withdrawn, but there is no progress with the other two, said the US official.

    Moscow and Tbilisi still disagree on the timeframe of the withdrawal. Moscow refuses to accept Tbilisi's proposal to pull out the Russian bases within three years. This is what first Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluevsky said at his talks with Georgian Foreign Minister Tedo Dzhaparidze on January 8th, 2004. Russia has firmly declared that the Georgian plan of the Russian bases' withdrawal from Batumi and Akhalkalaki is unfeasible.

    During his talks with Dzhaparidze, Baluyevsky said, the Russian side again declared its position on the ten-year term of the pullout. However, the term can be negotiated only if the Georgian side agrees to share part of the expenses on the pullout of the personnel, arms and equipment as well as on the provision of housing to the servicemen's families.

    Earlier, on December 6th, 2003 Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was confronted with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's demand that Russian bases be withdrawn from Georgia. Ivanov answered that in line with the Istanbul understandings, in particular in Russia and Georgia's joint statement of November 17, 1999, the sides signalled readiness to complete talks on the terms and routine of Russian bases' activity in Batumi and Akhalkalaki and Russian military facilities in Georgia. The issue is being negotiated, and eight rounds of talks have already been held, with the latest of them in Moscow on November 12-13. However, like at any negotiations, a compromise depends on the political will of both sides. We are set on constructive work seeking mutually acceptable solutions, stressed the Russian foreign minister.

    He added that the joint statement contained other obligations that Russia has fulfilled ahead of schedule, observing the conditions of transparency.

    For instance, before December 31, 2000 Russia cut its arms and hardware on Georgian territory, as stipulated by the treaty on the conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE). At the same time, Russia pulled out its hardware and weapons from its bases in Vaziani and Gudauta, and its maintenance enterprises in Tbilisi. Before July 1st, 2001 Russian military bases in Gudauta and Vaziani were disbanded and pulled out as well.

    "Hence, Russia's military presence in Georgia has been brought in line with the CFE restrictions, said the Russian foreign minister.

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