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    GEORGIAN PRIME MINISTER GOES TO ADZHARIA TO IMPROVE RELATIONS

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    TBILISI, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - The state minister of Georgia for settling conflicts, Georgy Khaindrava, hopes that the talks between Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and Aslan Abashidze, the head of the Adzharian autonomy, will remove tensions in relations between Tbilisi and Batumi.

    "I think that we already can say that the demands of the president of Georgia and the central authorities to the leadership of the autonomy are being fulfilled, even though there are setbacks at every step. I hope that the visit of the Georgian prime minister to Adzharia will remove a major problem - disarming the armed formations in the autonomy," Mr. Khaindrava told the Novosti-Georgia.

    On the instructions of President Mikhail Saakashvili, the Georgian prime minister left for Batumi for talks with Mr. Abashidze on Tuesday.

    "There are weapons in Adzharia that are beyond the control of the central authorities and this concerns both the Georgian leadership and the country's public, as well as the peaceful population of the autonomy. If a sound approach to the problem of weapons and illegal formations prevails and the local authorities of Adzharia moderate their ambitions we will be able to do away with this problem," the state minister said.

    Earlier Mr. Saakashvili told reporters that Mr. Zhvania was going to Batumi to discuss the issue of dividing powers between the center and the region and the armed groups in the autonomy surrendering their weapons.

    According to the Georgian president, the law enforcement and security bodies in the autonomy as well as the armed detachments that have formed there have helicopters, tanks, anti-aircraft missiles - including the Strela portable rocket launchers - various armored vehicles and several ships at their disposal.

    The Georgian president probably was referring to the weapons and equipment at the Russian military base in Batumi, the capital of the autonomy. The majority of the bases' staff are local residents rather than Russians.

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