Russia, Georgia to Carry out Joint Antiterrorist Operation

The Presidents of Russia and Georgia agreed to 'fully normalize relations between the two countries'. According to the press service of Russia's President, such was the statement Vladimir Putin made on Sunday after his meeting in Moldova's Palace of Republic with Georgia's President Eduard Shevarnadze. The two presidents arrived in Chisinau to attend the CIS forum that began yesterday.

Mr. Putin said that the joint antiterrorist operation and cooperation between Russian and Georgian law enforcement agencies come among a number of other agreements reached between the two countries in Moldova's capital. For instance, Georgia has promised to extradite all members of the bands now in the Pankisi ravine to Russia.

Mr. Shevarnadze has also promised that the border between Russia and Georgia would be patrolled by reinforced contingents of Georgian and Russian border guards. Special representatives will be appointed from the two parties to coordinate the setting up of an effective antiterrorist cooperation between the two countries.

Vladimir Putin said, 'Russia and Georgia intend to resolve the existing problem'. The agreement includes the speedy extradition to Russia of the terrorists now held by Georgian law enforcers.

In the meantime, Russia's President believes that for now relations between Georgia and Russia remain on 'an inadmissibly low level'. This is according to the press service of the CIS summit. Mr. Putin also said that 'All our actions are directed not against Georgia but against terrorists hiding out there'.

The President of Russia said he was highly satisfied with the results of his meeting with President Shevarnadze and called it 'a very sincere talk with all cards open'. He expressed his hope that all the new agreements would be adhered to. In his turn, President Shevarnadze said it was time relations between the two countries became 'as warm and neighbourly as before'.

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