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    MOSCOW HOPES TO REACH UNDERSTANDINGS WITH GEORGIA ON TIME SCALE FOR WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES

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    MOSCOW, April 8, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Moscow hopes to reach agreement with Georgia on a timeframe for the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgian territory, Alexander Yakovenko, an official Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a news conference in RIA Novosti on Thursday.

    According to him, there have been eight rounds of negotiations, with the last held in November. Talks, Yakovenko gave an assurance, will continue.

    "Agreements should be bilateral, and we would like to hope that they will be reached." Commenting on recent contacts between the foreign policy departments of Russia and Georgia, Yakovenko said that Moscow "assesses in general positively consultations at different levels with the German side." "We consider them useful - they will contribute to the development of bilateral relations," Yakovenko emphasized.

    The spokesman voiced Moscow's interest in "Georgia turning into a democratic state."

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