Russian President Backs Idea Of Setting Up Russian-Georgian Commission Of Inquiry Into Pankisi Gorge Incident

Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed the proposal of the Georgian president to establish a bilateral commission of inquiry into an incident in the Pankisi gorge. The incident involved alleged bombing of peaceful Georgian villages by Russian warplanes. Speaking at a press conference, the Russian president doubted whether the bombing did take place. Putin said that, according to Russian information, it was a clash between different groups of militants. The Russian president said that he is going to "seriously discuss" the matter of stay of Chechen militants in the territory of Georgia and also the Pankisi gorge incident at a bilateral meeting with the Georgian president on Friday. Meanwhile, at a press conference in Moscow Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze went on alleging that Russian warplanes bombed Georgian villages. True, "the Russian leadership knew nothing about it", said Shevardnadze. Proposing to establish a joint commission of investigation into what happened in the Pankisi gorge, Shevardnadze stressed that "presidents will draw final conclusions so as to prevent unjustified actions or mistakes in the future". Vladimir Putin expressed the opinion that Russia and Georgia "can go on positively to cooperate". Particularly, within elaborating a basic treaty between the two countries, as proposed by Eduard Shevardnadze. The Russian president reported that he has already had a series of meetings, particularly with deputies of the State Duma (the lower chamber of Russian parliament), which "are already getting down to preparation of that document",