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    GEORGIAN PRESIDENT HOPES FOR PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF ADZHARIAN PROBLEM AND RUSSIA'S NON-INTERFERENCE

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    TBILISI, 14 March, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/. -Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said that he hoped for Russia's neutrality in the current conflict between Georgia and its autonomous republic of Adzharia.

    "I am addressing the Russian leadership directly - take under your personal control the situation in Adzharia, particularly with regard to Russia's 12th military base stationed there. Take measures preventing repetition of previous mistakes as one such mistake in Abkhazia has eventually had extremely adverse consequences, including for Russia itself," Mikhail Saakashvili said in his televized address broadcast by all Georgian TV channels.

    He said that, "reports appeared in Batumi on Sunday according to which commanders of the 12th military base had offered supply of military hardware to the local authorities".

    On Sunday morning, the convoy of the Georgian President, on a working visit to Western Georgia, was barred from crossing the administrative border with Adzharia. Saakashvili returned to Poti and from there came out with a televized statement broadcast by all Georgian TV channels.

    He put the blame for the current situation in Adzharia on the former Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze.

    Mikhail Saakashvili announced that the Georgian Government would hold its extraordinary session in Poti on Sunday.

    "I urge the Adzharian population not to take up arms against their own country. I want to address all the people in Georgia - we must not repeat the mistakes that we made in the past," Saakashvili said.

    In Poti, the Georgian President is accompanied by the Prosecutor General, Prime Minister, Interior Minister, State Security Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces.

    The Georgian authorities closed the country's airspace on Sunday to prevent Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze, currently in Moscow, from returning to Batumi.

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