Tbilisi Doesn't Rule Out New Base Pullout Timetable

Georgia insists Russian military bases in Akhalkalak and Batumi are to be withdrawn within three years, but says other timetable options could be subject to negotiation, Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili told a news conference in Tbilisi Thursday. He said the pullout timetable could be revised "if the formula proposed by the Russian [delegation] is consistent with Georgia's interests and is objective." He said he hoped that negotiation process with Russia on the implementation of the Istanbul accords on withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia will be resumed in 2002, with joint economic programs busily discussed as well. He went on to say the creation of a global anti-terror coalition after September 11 attacks on the United States has some implications to do not solely with counter-terrorism. "These new realities have quite strongly influenced the making of the Russian-Georgian relations in a positive manner," Menagarishvili said.

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