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    COURSE OF RUSSIAN BASES' WITHDRAWAL MUST NOT AFFECT RELATIONS BETWEEN GEORGIA AND RUSSIA

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    TBILISI, April 5, 2004 (RIA Novosti-Georgia) - Georgian Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili believes issues related to the Russian military bases' withdrawal from Georgia must not set the tone of the two countries' relations.

    "The problem of the Russian bases' withdrawal from Georgian territory must not determine the nature of the two countries' relations," Mr Bezhuashvili told reporters on Monday as he summed up the results of his visit to Moscow and meetings with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov.

    The minister said they had reached an agreement to train Georgian officers and cadets in Russia's military schools and academies.

    "There are some legal problems. However, we were promised that the legal barriers that deny education benefits to Georgian servicemen would be overcome," said Mr Bezhuashvili.

    The first group of Georgian officers will be sent to Russia as early as this year, according to the defense minister.

    "Today, we have resumed cooperation in line with the 1992 pattern. You remember a resolution initiated by Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, which prohibited the Russian government to maintain military-technological cooperation with Georgia. We have requested State Duma representatives to revise the resolution or pass a new one," said Mr Bezhuashvili.

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