Russian, Georgian Foreign Ministers Discuss Georgian-Abkhazian Settlement

Foreign Ministers of Russia and Georgia Igor Ivanov and Irakly Menagarishvili discussed Georgian-Russian relations in a phone conversation, the Russian Foreign Ministry's information and press department reported on Tuesday.

In addition, the ministers discussed "the issues of settling the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict in the light of the recent trip to Sukhumi of the Russian President's special envoy Valery Loshchinin." (Abkhazia is an autonomous republic on Georgian territory that has proclaimed its independence).

During his trip Loshchinin held a number of meetings where he discussed the extension of the mandate for the Collective Peacekeeping Forces after January 1, 2003.

On Monday the Georgian President announced he was not ready to make a decision concerning the mandate extension.

Moscow, however, believes that the unclarity with the mandate brings "serious complications to the peacekeeping efforts of both the CIS and the UN." "The mandate extension is first of all in Georgia's own interests," as "these forces make an important contribution to preserving stability in the region," Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko had stated earlier.

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