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    RUSSIA CAN PULL OUT ITS BASES FROM GEORGIA WITH NO MEDIATORS

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    MOSCOW, January 23, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russia can solve the issue of pulling out its military bases from Georgia with no mediators involved, a source in the Russian foreign ministry told RIA Novosti.

    According to the source, cooperation in the former Soviet republics, in particular, in Georgia, can be highlighted during the talks between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and US Secretary of State Colin Powell due on January 26.

    "We think there are no issues that could not be negotiated with the Georgian side," said the source.

    He acknowledged that Russia and Georgia disagreed on the withdrawal of the bases, including its timeframe. "We need to find an acceptable and sensible decision, and this can be done without mediators." According to the source, "the United States is overestimating this problem, linking the implementation of the Istanbul agreements with the ratification of the treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE). This position is unacceptable for us, for the treaty has its own value, and such an approach may further complicate the situation."

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