Georgian-Abkhazian-CIS-UN meeting due in Abkhazia

On Wednesday representatives of Georgia, Abkhazia /a self-proclaimed republic on Georgia's territory/, peace-makers of the CIS and UN observers will meet in Abkhazia, Abkhazia's representatives in Moscow told RIA Novosti. The Georgian delegates will be headed by Minister for Emergency Affairs Malkhaz Kakabadze, and the Abkhazian delegates by first deputy Defence Minister Givi Agrba. The sides will discuss the results of the Kodori Gorge monitoring conducted by a patrol group of Russian peace-makers and UN military observers stationed in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. In a telephone interview with RIA Novosti, Agrba said he might refuse to attend the meeting if Georgia did not accept his initiative to patrol the Kodori Gorge on a regular basis. Agrba heading the working group for security of Abkhazia stressed that in case Georgia disagreed with his proposal, his participation in the meeting would be pointless. Agrba said that he had received no answer to the letter of his proposals so far. He reminded the audience that earlier Georgia had refused to consider them outright, but asked for time to make things out, at recent meetings. Agrba suggests that the observation post of Russian peace-keepers be restored in the Chkhalta settlement and another post on the pass of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge set up after snow melts there. During the previous meetings between the four sides, the Abkhazian side repeatedly emphasised that it viewed the mechanism of the joint patrolling in the Kodori Gorge by the UN peace-keepers and military observers as ineffective because the observers were to warn the Georgian side of the forthcoming patrolling in advance now. Abkhazia deems that such a condition and the peculiarities of the local areas - complex relief and thick forests - allow the Georgian authorities to "hide armed people staying in the Gorge." In turn, the minister for special missions of the Georgian government Malkhaz Kakabadze told RIA Novosti that there were no Georgian units in the upper part of the Kodori Gorge controlled by the Georgian side, but were border guards whose presence the Georgian side had never concealed. In accordance with the protocol on stabilisation in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone, signed in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, on April 2nd, the Georgian forces should be withdrawn from the Kodori Gorge before April 10th, 2002. Georgia claims that it has met its obligations, but the Abkhazian side believes that the presence of the Georgian border guards and the armed self-defence units of local residents in the Kodori Gorge is a violation of the achieved agreements.

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