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Georgian leader confirms readiness to meet with Putin

October 29, 2014, 1:11 UTC+3 TBILISI
On February 10, President Putin said he did not rule out the possibility of meeting with his Georgian counterpart
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TBILISI, October 28. /TASS/. Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili confirmed on Tuesday that he was ready to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

“Georgia offers Russia good-neighborly and friendly relations on the basis of territorial integrity of Georgia within the framework of internationally recognized borders of our country,” Margvelashvili told Rustavi-2 television.

On February 10, President Putin said he did not rule out the possibility of meeting with his Georgian counterpart. “If he expresses a wish, why not,” the president said in reply to a query by a Georgian reporter at the Sochi Olympic Games.

Commenting on that, Margvelashvili said he would “thoroughly analyze” Putin’s words, and later repeatedly said he was ready for talks, adding that “thorough and serious preparations” were needed.

On October 21, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a telephone interview with Georgian Imedi television channel that “a proper environment must be formed for holding such meeting” and Moscow was waiting for a “concrete signal” from Tbilisi.

“There must be a relevant political will on behalf of Georgia, while Vladimir Putin made it clear earlier that if he receives a signal from the Georgian side than the meeting would take place,” Peskov said.

On the same day, Georgian prime minister’s special envoy for ties with Russia Zurab Abashidze said Georgia supported a summit meeting of the two presidents. “We support such meeting, but it needs a serious and detailed preparation to be successful and to provide for the difficult process of settlement of relations between the two countries,” Abashidze said adding that no such preparations were currently underway.

Diplomatic ties between Moscow and Tbilisi were severed after Russia recognized independence of two Georgian breakaway republics South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The recognition followed Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, engaging Russian peace-making operations in August 2008. Georgia maintains that recognition infringed its territorial integrity.

Following election of Georgia's new parliament in 2012, tension between Moscow and Tbilisi began to thaw when then-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili called normalization of relations with Russia one of the country's top priorities.

Last December President Putin stated that Russia could possibly return to visa-free regime with Georgia.

Border crossings between Russia and Georgia intensified after Moscow lifted bans in 2013 from Georgian imports of wine, mineral water, brandy and other goods. In 2013 Georgia also unilaterally cancelled the visa regimen with Russia, prompting Russian tourists to travel to inexpensive Georgian mountain ski resorts and make tourist trips to Tbilisi.

Regular air traffic on the Moscow-Tbilisi-Moscow route was back to normal on September 15 first time since its suspension in August 2008.

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