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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Russia to withdraw Georgia troops
A soldier patrols at the Russian military base near the southern town of Akhalkalaki in Georgia
The presence of Russian troops has long been a source of tension
Russia has agreed to withdraw its remaining troops from Georgia by 2008.

The deal was announced in Moscow by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after he held talks there with Georgian counterpart Salome Zurabishvili.

Mrs Zurabishvili called it an "important and constructive step", and said Georgia had achieved its goal.

Russia currently has two Soviet-era bases in Georgia, whose continued presence has been a source of tension between Moscow and Tbilisi.

The two bases are home to about 3,000 troops.

The deal follows months of talks between Moscow and Tbilisi, after previous attempts failed to reach an agreement on Russian withdrawal.

Tbilisi had wanted Russian troops to leave by the beginning of 2008, but Moscow said it needed four years to complete the pull-out.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov had previously said it could take up to four years to build accommodation to house the servicemen who would be withdrawn.

In March this year, Georgian MPs voted unanimously to outlaw Russia's military presence in the country unless Moscow withdrew its servicemen by 1 January 2006. They threatened to declare the bases illegal and stop issuing entry visas to Russian troops if they failed to withdraw.





SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Georgia-Russia tensions
10 May 05 |  Europe


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