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    GEORGIA ASKS RUSSIA'S MORE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN ADZHARIAN SETTLEMENT

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    MOSCOW, March 17, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia is to ask Russia's more active participation in Adzharian settlement, said Vano Merabishvili, the Georgian Security Council Secretary.

    "Russia plays a very important role and much will depend on its active participation in Adzharian settlement," Mr. Merabishvili told journalists before the talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

    The talks will focus on Adzharia issue.

    Mr. Merabishvili expects Russia to give a key to mutual understanding between Tbilisi, Adzharia and the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia.

    Vano Merabishvili wants to discuss the situation with the Russian Foreign Minister and to explain Tbilisi's position to him.

    Mr. Merabishvili assessed his Wednesday talks with the Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov as "successful".

    Russia's position on the Tbilisi-Batumi conflict lies in its respect for the Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov had a telephone conversation with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. Mr. Ivanov asked the Georgian leader to meet with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, currently in Georgia. Mr. Saakashvili agreed. According to Igor Ivanov, the Russian authorities approved the Moscow Mayor's steps to establish a dialogue between Tbilisi and Batumi.

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