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    MOSCOW MAYOR: FIRST STEP TO TBILISI-BATUMI CRISIS SETTLEMENT MADE

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    TBILISI, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov said the Tbilisi-Batumi crisis has been settled in general, but there will be hard negotiations.

    "We did not interfere with the negotiating process and the Georgian president thanked us for this. But we played our role in preventing bloodshed. The problem has been settled, but there will be a lot of hard negotiations and a search for a reasonable and logical compromise," Mr. Luzhkov told a Batumi press conference.

    In his turn, Adzharian autonomy leader Aslan Abashidze told journalists that he is ready to cancel the state of emergency on Adzharian territory immediately after the economic blockade is lifted by the Georgian central authorities.

    "As soon as the blockade is lifted, the state of emergency in Adzharia will be canceled. We expect this to happen at midnight. We hope by this time railway communication with Adzharia will be restored," Mr. Abashidze said.

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