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    TBILISI: SANCTIONS AGAINST ADZHARIA AIMED TO PREVENT ARRIVAL OF ARMS

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    TBILISI, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- The sanctions against the autonomous republic of Adzharia were meant to cut short the arrival of arms there, Tbilisi maintains.

    Arms were brought to Adzharia through the port of Batumi, Georgian Economic Minister Irakli Rekhviashvili told the press conference in Tbilisi. According to his information, arms were arriving to Adzharia "also by other routes," the Novosti-Georgia news agency reports.

    "The limitations against Adzharia (closure of the port, airport, Sarpi customs, etc), introduced by the central leadership of Georgia, were only the authorities' reaction to the Adzharian leadership's refusal to obey the Georgian administration and to end the arrival of arms to the autonomy," Mr. Rekhviashvili said.

    Today the Georgian television company Rustavi-2 said that the Adzharian leadership has sent its representatives to Turkey to speak on the purchase of arms and military equipment.

    According to the TV company, referring to its own sources in the leadership of Adzharia, Adzharian head Aslan Abashidze has taken the decision to send the representatives to Turkey for munitions talks with unofficial figures.

    According to the same source, on Wednesday the leadership of Adzharia sent a representative to Belarus with a similar mission.

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