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    RUSSIA FULFILS ITS OBLIGATIONS ON 1999 ISTANBUL AGREEMENT CONCERNING GEORGIA

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    MOSCOW, January 28th, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov stated that in the course of the talks with US Secretary of State Colin Powell the possible US financing of the Russian remaining military bases withdrawal from Georgia wasn't discussed.

    "We believe that the Istanbul agreements, which Russia undertook in 1999 at the OSCE summit are practically fulfilled," Mr. Ivanov said.

    According to the Minister, Russia withdrew from Georgia two out of the four military bases, took the obligations to reduce arms at the remaining bases (in Batumi and Akhalkalaki) down to the level envisaged in the CFE Treaty, having reduced several hundred units of heavy materiel under the strict international control.

    "The next obligation, concerning the talks with the Georgian authorities on the timeframe of the remaining Russian military bases presence and the order of actions, has been also fulfilled. We have fulfilled this part of obligations by holding eight rounds of talks," Mr. Ivanov said.

    According to him, Russia will continue its talks on the issue as soon as the new Georgian government is formed.

    As for Mr. Powell's statement concerning the US military bases in the CIS countries, Mr. Ivanov noted, "that the status of the American bases is temporary and is determined by the timeframe of the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan."

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