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    SAAKASHVILI NOTES "CHANGE IN TONE" ON THE PART OF RUSSIA WITH REGARD TO GEORGIA

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    Brussels, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili points out "a full change in the tone" on the part of Russia with regard to Georgia.

    "I recently was in Moscow and met with Mr. Putin. I pointed out a full change in the tone with regard to us, in particular, on television, and this is important," Mikhail Saakashvili, who visited Brussels on April 6-7, told the newspaper Soir.

    "Georgia is no longer mentioned (in Russia) as "a refuge for Chechen terrorists," the Georgian President said. "An end has been put to this. Presently, we are talking about cooperation in this sphere." Answering the question about his attitude to the Russian President, Mikhail Saakashvili described Vladimir Putin as "an open, quiet, cold-minded and pragmatic statesman." "Mr. Putin understands better than others that the (Moscow) policy with regard to the neighbours should be changed," noted the Georgian leader.

    "As far as we are concerned, we agree with the Russians that all the questions can be solved to a mutual satisfaction on condition that, generally, our relations will be politically correct," Mikhail Saakashvili said. "We are moving in this direction. For example, Russia has demonstrated its neutrality in our dispute with Adjaria, while its leaders counted on Russia's support." "I have gained the impression that Mr. Putin is a man who firstly thinks the matter over and then formulates his promises, which he keeps and is proud of this," the Georgian President noted.

    Answering the question about the possible timeframe for the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia, he assured the interviewer that it will be solved peacefully." "The Russians demonstrate flexibility, understanding that this concerns an instrument of pressure remaining from the past century," Mikhail Saakashvili said.

    "We have started building relations of genuine partnership with Russia," he underscored. Today they do not need such an 'instrument.' We have common interests in the Caucasus: stability and the fight against separatism and terrorism." Mikhail Saakashvili remarked in this connection that "if the Russians want to be present in our country" in the way the Americans are, assisting Georgia in creating its national army and police, "they would be welcomed with joy."

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