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    SAAKASHVILI: WE WANT PEACE AND GOOD RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

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    TBILISI, JULY 14 (RIA Novosti) - We hope President Vladimir Putin will take a pragmatic and reasonable approach to South Ossetia, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told reporters in London.

    Mr Saakashvili's meeting with the press was telecast by the Georgian Mze channel.

    Saakashvili voiced concern over the developments in South Ossetia. "It's hard for Georgia to hope for the peaceful settlement of the conflict at a time when they are trying to snatch the territory and join it to Russia with the help of a few people residing in the Tskhinvali region (Georgia's name for its former autonomy and now the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia) and having Russian passports", he said.

    Saakashvili assured that Georgia wants goodneighbourly relations with Russia. In the last few months, the public opinion in Georgia has changed for the better towards Russia, according to Saakashvili.

    "We want peace and good relations with Russia", he emphasised.

    Saakashvili said the Russian mass media had been depicting Georgia as an aggressor. "It is not true," he said.

    Meanwhile, at the talks in Moscow within the framework of the Mixed Control Commission for the Settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict, the Georgian side brought up the questions of control over the Rok tunnel (it links South Ossetia and Russia) and the demilitarisation of the conflict zone.

    "Control over the Rok tunnel is very important for us", the co-chairman of the commission and Georgian State Minister for Settling Conflicts, Georgi Khaindrava, told journalists.

    He also said that Tbilisi demanded the withdrawal of armed men from the Dzhava district. "Mercenaries must be disarmed and withdrawn", he said. "We will not allow the presence of mercenaries and uncontrolled heavy military hardware there", Khaindrava said. "We are ready to patrol the conflict zone and adjacent lands in any format of the commission," he said.

    "We have come to Moscow for peace to be wholly and unequivocally guaranteed in the region. Moscow has the keys," Khaindrava stressed.

    He also thinks the question of the return of Russian munitions was settled.

    Trucks and unguided rocket projectiles for helicopters owned by Russian peacekeepers had been returned four days ago, he said.

    Trucks loaded with rocket projectiles were brought to the backyard of the headquarters of the Transcaucasian military district, of which the Russian side has been informed, Khaindrava said. (The Georgian special forces had confiscated two trucks with Russian munitions from the Russian peacekeepers last week.)

    Meanwhile, the Russian military do not confirm the information on Georgia's return of the peacekeepers' weapons.

    "Trucks with Russian arms are not to be found on the premises of the headquarters of the Transcaucasian military district in Tbilisi", the headquarters' duty officer told RIA Novosti by telephone on Wednesday.

    He specified that on July 9 the Georgian personnel left two truckloads of Russian equipment and pyrotechnics at the headquarters' checkpoint and tried to hand them in.

    "We refused to accept the trucks saying that the property was not ours and they should be returned it to where it has been taken, to the owners from which it has been stolen", the duty officer said.

    He noted that the instruction to act likewise has been given to all the commanders in the conflict zone. "Since then, July 9, we know nothing about the trucks", the officer said.

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