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Russian, Georgian officials to meet in Geneva after 4-year pause

December 14, 2012, 6:17 UTC+3

Karasin expressed the certainty that both parties were interested in the resumption of the dialogue, adding that there would be no intermediaries

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GENEVA, December 14 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and the Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for settling relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, will meet in Geneva on Friday.

As the senior Russian diplomat has told Itar-Tass, “there has been no direct thematic dialogue on bilateral relations between Russia and Georgia since August 2008.”

Karasin expressed the certainty that both parties were interested in the resumption of the dialogue, adding that there would be no intermediaries.

“This (negotiating through go-betweens) would be even somewhat humiliating for such close states as Russia and Georgia,” he said. “We must have direct contacts.”

The Russian deputy foreign minister said that “only bilateral relations” between Russia and Georgia would be discussed.

“We agreed to leave South Ossetia and Abkhazia outside the agenda,” Karasin said, adding that Russia would not discuss such matters with the Georgians “without partners from Sukhum and Tskhinval.”

“These themes are for making decisions in the format of Geneva discussions,” he said.

Karasin explained that the forthcoming discussion would concern only realistic spheres, where progress in relations was possible.

“Saying that we will declare a visa-free regimen for Georgian citizens would be absurd, because diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia were severed in 2008,” Karasin said.

“In the wake of the emergence of a new government (in Georgia) we would like to review our relations together with the Georgian counterparts and to discuss the spheres where we would like to advance or normalize contacts, promote cultural exchanges, and give thought to new forms of trade that have been frozen over these years,” the Russian diplomat said.

Before flying to Geneva Zurab Abashidze told the media that the meeting would be “organizational and technical.”

“We need a discussion of how we should go about the business or conducting the dialogue in the future. Georgia and Russia have their own vision of these issues,” he said. “Georgia is prepared for a fundamental and constructive dialogue with Russia, and it sets no preconditions for beginning the dialogue. I do hope that there will not be any preconditions on Russia’s side, either.”

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