Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Georgia resumes direct flights to Russia after war

Georgian Airlines plane in Tbilisi, Georgia (file image)
A Georgian Airways plane flew from Tbilisi to Moscow, officials said

Russia and Georgia have reopened air traffic with the first direct passenger flight between the two countries since a war in 2008.

The Georgian Airways flight took off from the Georgian capital Tbilisi and landed in Moscow two hours later.

Russia has given permission for three more charter flights over the next few days, said a Georgian Airways spokesman.

But Moscow has not yet permitted a timetable of scheduled flights.

The move is the latest thaw in ties that had been frozen since a five-day war in August 2008, when Georgia attempted to regain control of South Ossetia, whose separatist forces were backed by Russian troops.

In December, the countries announced that a key road crossing closed since 2006 was to be reopened.

The Kazbegi-Upper Lars crossing, which officials said was likely to reopen in March, is the only crossing that does not go through the Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Georgian forces were driven out of the two regions in the bitter war.

Correspondents say the recent signs of improving relations between Georgia and Russia are significant, but that the hostility between the two countries remains strong.

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