A regular sitting of the state commissions of Russia and Georgia for preparing a framework treaty on the fundamentals of relations between the two states is scheduled to be held in Moscow in the second half of January 2002. This was reported on the results of a meeting in Tbilisi of the chiefs of the Georgian and Russian commissions, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili and Boris Pastukhov, chairman of the Russian parliamentary commission on contacts with member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. At the Tbilisi meeting, a unanimous opinion was declared that conclusion of the treaty between Russia and Georgia will indubitably promote further development of Georgian-Russian relations, produce a favourable impact on the strengthening of stability and peace in the Caucasus and the entire region. The Georgian and Russian state commissions inked a joint protocol. "We have fulfilled the goals which we set before the first sitting", said Pastukhov. The sides exchanged opinions on the conceptual clauses underlying the draft paper and agreed on further arrangement of work of their commissions. Boris Pastukhov also noted that "the entire deputy corps of the State Duma (the lower chamber of Russian parliament) is interested in the development of goodneighbourly relations between Russia and Georgia". However, outlook for ratification of a new Georgian-Russian framework agreement by the State Duma will depend on its contents. "If the sides provide an answer to a set of questions which prevented the ratification of the 1994 treaty, problems of the ratification of the new treaty will be resolved", believes Pastukhov. In turn, Irakli Menagarishvili hopes that the dialogue begun in Tbilisi will lead to the solution of many issues in Georgian-Russian relations.
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Eyewitnesses said that explosions could be heard in the centre of Kyiv. Smoke was seen rising above Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv International Airport)