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    RUSSIAN, GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS TO DISCUSS FIGHTING TERRORISM, BORDER SECURITY

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    MOSCOW, February 11, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Russian president Vladimir Putin will meet on Wednesday with his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili, the press service of the head of the Russian state told RIA Novosti.

    The two presidents will discuss cooperation in ensuring security on the Russian-Georgian border, counteracting the threats of terrorism and transnational organised crime," the source at the Kremlin told RIA Novosti.

    He called as "positive" Mikhail Saakashvili's statements concerning his intention to change the approaches to the transborder activity of Chechen militants in Georgia by way of closer cooperation between the border-guards of the two countries and the law-enforcement agencies as a whole.

    Speaking to the faculty and students of the Moscow Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) on February 10, the Georgian president proposed: "Let's organize joint patrolling and let your officers stay in Georgia." Saakashvili pointed out that he came out precisely for these forms of cooperation.

    RIA Novosti's source said that special attention in the Russian-Georgian dialogue is being paid to issues related to the Russian military bases in Georgia.

    In compliance with the understandings reached at the Istanbul OSCE summit, it is planned to coordinate the conditions of functioning and the terms for the Russian bases stay in Georgia. By now, two of them - Vaziani and Gudauta - have been disbanded.

    "As for Batumi and Akhalkalaki bases, terms and conditions should be coordinated during negotiations on the military issues," the source emphasised.

    Mr. Saakashvili in his speech at the MGIMO declared that he did not insist on the immediate withdrawal of the Russian military bases. At the same time, he believes the withdrawal is necessary.

    During their meeting Putin and Saakashvili will spotlight the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian Ossetian conflicts. "Russia firmly comes out for the political solution to the problems," the source stressed.

    The Georgian president arrived in Moscow on February 10 with a working visit. This is the first visit of Mikhail Saakashvili to Russia in the capacity of the head of state. He was elected president of Georgia at the extraordinary elections on January 4, scheduled after the voluntary resignation of the former president, Eduard Shevardnadze, in November 2003.

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