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    IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA -A MAJOR TASK OF INCUMBENT GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES - MIKHAIL SAAKASHVILI

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    PARIS, March 9, 2004 -RIA Novosti. Improving relations with Russia is a major task of the current Georgian authorities, Mikhail Saakashvili stated on Tuesday at a press conference in Paris. He is in France on a two-day working visit.

    Replying to a question from a RIA Novosti correspondent Saakashvili said that the current Georgian authorities "had put an end to the policy of animosity which the former president Eduard Shevardnadze pursued" and were interested in relations between Georgia and Russia becoming much closer and friendly.

    "We have good prospects for moving along this road", Saakashvili said.

    At the same time he expressed himself for withdrawal of the Russian military bases from the territory of Georgia, saying that these bases "can be a factor of instability and danger." Saakashvili also reminded of his proposal on joint patrolling the Russian-Georgian border to hinder the movement of militants operating on the territory of Chechnya.

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