US Envoy, back in Tbilisi, says Abashidze talks were 'positive'

Richard Miles, the US ambassador to Georgia, and Aslan Abashidze, the head of the Adjaria Autonomous Republic, met for three hours in Batumi today, but it is not known whether they reached agreement. On his return to Tbilisi, Miles told journalists that the meeting was positive. 'Relations between Batumi and Tbilisi have not developed normally in recent years, but there is a chance now to normalize the situation,' the envoy asserted. 'Whether the people of Adjaria will take part in Georgia's presidential election on January 4 is an internal Georgian affair,' he said, 'and we will not interfere.'

The object of Miles' talks with Abashidze was to persuade the latter to allow Adjaria to participate in the special Georgian election and to give him guarantees that the election of Mikhail Saakashvili as Georgian president would not radically alter the situation in the autonomy.

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