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    CONFLICT MUST BE SOLVED THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS: PUTIN

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    ASTANA, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin said that conflict situations, including those in the Commonwealth of Independent States, must be solved through negotiations and regarding the interests of all the parties involved.

    "Economic and, moreover, military pressure will not help solve the problems," he said in reply to a Georgian journalist's question on what she called "Russia's unilateral decision to restore railway communication with Abkhazia" (a self-proclaimed republic within Georgia).

    "Our firm belief is that conflict situations, including those in the Commonwealth of Independent States, must be solved through negotiations and regarding the interests of all the parties involved," the president said.

    "Legally, the current decisions and the decisions of 1996 [related to the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict] do not restrict commercial activities of non-state organizations," Mr. Putin said.

    According to him, railway communication between Moscow and Abkhazia has existed since 1993. He noted the terrible condition of the railway which Russian businessmen had to repair.

    Putin also spoke about the conflict between Moldova and the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian republic. Russia does not object to increasing the number of peace process participants, but does not regard it necessary, he said.

    "A mechanic increase in the number of negotiations process does not guarantee its success. Although, on the whole, we do not object to any options that would be acceptable for Moldova's leaders with regard to achieving the final objective," the president said at the news conference in Astana.

    At the same time, Mr. Putin believes, by acting in this way, "all this can be turned into a talkfest, which will last for another century." "I do not think the Moldovan leaders are interested in such developments," he said.

    "We cannot foster our organization [the CIS] without solving these conflicts, Mr. Putin stressed.

    The resolution of these conflicts "will require well-balanced approaches, patience and readiness to meet each other halfway," he said.

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