Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Tuesday his country was ready for "extensive" dialog with Russia, days after the Russian president ruled out any progress in Russian-Georgian relations under Saakashvili.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last Thursday the two neighbors had no chance of improving ties "during the incumbent Georgian president's rule."
"We have no interest in confrontation with Russia. We are ready for dialog with them, including the [current] Russian leadership. We recognize them as partners in talks. We want to conduct negotiations with them, [but] taking into consideration that Georgia is a single, sovereign and independent state which wants to be their partner," he told the National Security Council.
He also said that he was ready to conduct "extensive dialog" on normalizing the situation in former Georgian republics, including on the return of people displaced in 2008 as a result of the five-day Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia, "without any preconditions."
"Normalization envisages the return of up to 500,000 Georgian refugees to their homes," the president said.
Saakashvili did not specify, however, how "taking into consideration" Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity corresponds with Russia's position that the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are now independent states.
At a meeting with representatives of business, scientific and public circles at Stanford University on June 24, Medvedev ruled out any improvement in "dramatically poor" ties with Georgia under the current Georgian leadership, citing his conviction that Saakashvili "did a bad thing, or, to put it in legal terms, he committed a crime."
He also said that despite numerous calls to reverse the recognition of the former Georgian republics, Russia would continue to treat them as independent states.
Long-standing tensions between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia turned violent during a five-day war in August 2008, when Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia, where most residents are Russian passport holders, in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
TBILISI, June 29 (RIA Novosti)