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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 19:17 GMT
Russia lifts Abkhazia sanctions
Russia says it is lifting its trade restrictions on the separatist region of Abkhazia, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said the situation regarding Abkhazia had completely changed.

Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili condemned Russia's move.

Mr Denisov denied the move had anything to do with recognition by some states of Kosovo's independence. Russia says Kosovo remains part of Serbia.

The Russian sanctions were imposed in 1996 to try to limit Abkhazia's separatist aspirations, but analysts say they have had little effect.

Abkhazia is expected this week to follow the example of Georgia's other breakaway region, South Ossetia, and ask the UN and other international bodies to recognise its independence.

Mr Denisov said Russia's position on the territorial integrity of Georgia remained unchanged.

But the Russian foreign ministry accused Georgia of "undermining the negotiating process" on the Abkhazia question.

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