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    Swiss Embassy in Georgia could open Russian office in Jan.

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    MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) - The Swiss Embassy in Georgia could open an office in January 2009 to represent Russia's interests, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Swiss counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, exchanged the necessary diplomatic papers to authorize Switzerland to act on Russia's behalf in Georgia at a ceremony in Moscow on December 13.

    "It only remains for Switzerland to receive Georgia's consent, and if this does not take up much time, the office could start work in January 2009," the ministry said.

    The ministry said the activities to be performed by the new office would involve basic diplomatic and consulate functions, including the issuing of visas.

    Calmy-Rey said her country could also represent Tbilisi in Moscow. The minister said Tbilisi had asked Switzerland on Thursday if the Swiss Embassy in Moscow could represent Georgia, provided Russia had no objections. Lavrov responded positively to the suggestion.

    Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Russia in late August after Moscow recognized its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Recognition followed a five-day war with Georgia that began when the South Caucasus state attacked South Ossetia in a bid to bring it back under central control.

    Switzerland, as a neutral state, has for years represented the interests of a number of countries. It currently represents Cuba's and Iran's interests in the United States, U.S. interests in Cuba, and Iran in Egypt.

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