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    ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST ADZHARIA TO BE LIFTED TODAY

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    TBILISI, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Marina Kvaratskhelia) - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze have agreed upon the lifting of blockade from the Georgian autonomy.

    The president gave the instruction at midnight, Saakashvili told journalists on Thursday after the three-hours-and-a-half-long talks in Batumi.

    The sanctions were imposed on March 15.

    Assessing the talks held, the Georgian president said that the sides had displayed goodwill. "I personally have nothing against Mr Abashidze. But there are also state interests involved," Saakashvili said.

    "The most important thing is that we have preserved the democratic system and civil peace. Our meeting passed in the atmosphere of full mutual understanding," Saakashvili said.

    "It was a to-the-point conversation and we have reached concrete goals," he continued.

    "We talked free movement of people in Adzharia, the holding of free and democratic elections, setting free of political prisoners, disarming of the local emergency volunteer corps," he went on to say.

    "There is no conflict in existence, nor can there be, between Georgia and Adzharia. Today I was moving in Adzharia with people welcoming me. We saw their reaction - they are Georgians, our citizens," the Georgian president said.

    Saakashvili also said that agreement has been reached to install posts of the Georgian president's representative at the Batumi sea port, Sarpi customs office, on the Georgian-Turkish border to control the movement of cargoes.

    When asked by journalists if he had had talks with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Saakashvili said that he had had a fleeting meeting with him after the talks with the head of Adzharia. "It was nice to talk with him", noted Saakashvili.

    The Novosti-Georgia news agency reports that after the talks Saakashvili had a meeting with representatives of the political forces in opposition to the present leadership of the autonomy.

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