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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Nato presses Russia over Georgia
Vladimir Putin (right) and Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
President Putin (right) is wary of Nato influence in the ex-USSR
Nato's secretary general has called on Russia to lift the sanctions it imposed on Georgia, during a visit to Moscow.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer discussed Nato-Russia relations with President Vladimir Putin.

He urged both Russia and Georgia to show restraint and find a way to defuse their diplomatic crisis.

Russia has a partnership deal with Nato, but has voiced concern about Nato's expansion eastwards and opposes Georgia's bid to join the alliance.

Mr Scheffer told President Putin that "Russia's active participation for the solution of many conflicts is essential".

Diplomatic row

Russia cut transport and postal links with Georgia and expelled hundreds of Georgians after the authorities in Tbilisi briefly detained four Russian officers last month, accusing them of spying.

"I would hope that the time has now come to lift these measures," Mr Scheffer said.

Mr Putin on Wednesday accused the Georgian leadership of preparing to retake the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by force.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili says his country has been punished by Moscow for its efforts to forge closer ties with the West and Nato.

But Mr Scheffer denied that the present Georgia-Russia tension had anything to do with Nato's decision in September to grant Georgia "intensified dialogue" status.

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