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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 October 2006, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Georgian anger at Putin war claim
Deportation flight returns to Tbilisi
Russia's deportation of Georgians has infuriated Tbilisi
Georgia's government has reacted with anger to claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Georgia is readying for war in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili called Mr Putin's remarks "absurd" and said that Georgia had no plan to use force in the breakaway regions.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are both seeking independence from Georgia.

Russian-Georgian relations worsened last month after Tbilisi detained four Russians whom it said were spies.

Following the arrests, Moscow imposed sanctions on Georgia and expelled hundreds of Georgians living in Russia.

US pressure

The Georgian government has vowed to reassert control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia but insists it will use peaceful methods.

"It's absurd," Mr Saakashvili said referring to Mr Putin's remarks. "We don't need a war."

At a meeting with President Putin in Moscow on Saturday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restraint in relations with the pro-Western government in Tbilisi.

As the crisis between the two countries continues, the BBC's Matthew Collin in Tbilisi says there is a growing sense of anger in Georgia of what many people see as the Kremlin's extreme reaction to the arrest of four Russian military intelligence officers on spying charges last month.

Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili described the situation as profoundly disturbing, saying that it was a clash of values between the democratic aspirations of Georgia and those of Russia, a country which was targeting people because of their ethnicity.

The speaker of the Georgian parliament, Nino Burjanadze, accused Russia of using nationalism as a weapon and turning Georgians into what she described as the image of the enemy.

Although both sides say they want to calm the tensions, our correspondent says, the uncompromising statements continue.




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