Georgian talks break down; Radical opposition vows continued fight

Talks between Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the radical opposition have ended in failure. The late Sunday night talks began after both sides accused the other of backing away from a dialogue to resolve Georgia's political crisis. The meeting took place in the official residence, Krtsanisy. Participants included Shevardnadze; Mikhail Saakashvili, the leader of the opposition bloc 'Saakashvili-National Movement'; Nino Burdzhanadze, the speaker of parliament and leader of the opposition bloc 'Burdzhanadze-Democrats,' and her colleague in the bloc, the former parliamentary speaker, Zurab Zhvaniya.

The talks went on for three hours, at which time Saakashvili left in protest. He told journalists that Shevardnadze had refused to cooperate with him and had offered no concessions. The opposition is demanding either a recount of the votes in the elections of November 2 or new parliamentary elections. Saakashvili is also demanding the immediate resignation of the president.

He said Shevardnadze had disclaimed any connection to the way the elections were managed and said he did not run the executive branch. Saakashvili said the Georgian president's behavior was a reflection of some kind of guarantees from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shevardnadze 'believes in Russian tanks,' Saakashvili said. 'This is not a good idea for Russia, and I advise against such an adventure. Russia should not use its military might against Georgia. Shevardnadze is not going to be around very long, just as Ceausescu and Milosevic are not,' Saakashvili declared, noting that he had burned his bridges behind him, leaving himself only one path: to battle to the end.

Saakashvili also said Shevardnadze would visit Batumi on Monday for a meeting with Aslan Abashidze, head of the Adzhar Autonomous Republic. 'The three of them will try something,' he said (he referred to the Russian president as the third). The country, he said, faces a terrible threat: 'We must unite and change the government.'

Burdzhanadze and Zhvaniya left the government residence without comment.

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