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    NO USE OF FORCE TO SETTLE TRANSDNIESTER ISSUE, WARNS RUSSIA'S DEFENCE MINISTER

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - "It is out of the question to settle the Transdniestria issue through the use of force," emphasized Sergei Ivanov, Russia's Defense Minister, as he was addressing the media in Moscow today.

    A reporter asked him about the Russian stance on certain Georgian officials' pronouncements on Russia's overseas military bases.

    The matter demands detailed bilateral discussion, and needs to be offered for debate to the Russia-NATO Council, replied the minister.

    "We coped with our obligations to reduce our arsenals in Georgia and Transdniestria even by the year 2000, and we have dismantled two of our military bases in Georgia," he stressed.

    As previous understandings had it, after Russia met those provisos, it was to start negotiations with Georgia to discuss the status of two remaining Russian bases in that country. "We have had eight rounds of those talks since 2001-and we have not yet come to a shared opinion," added Mr. Ivanov.

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