Georgia hopes to cooperate with EU

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli said Tuesday he expected his country to finish negotiations with the European Union on pursuing tighter economic, trade and security cooperation by early 2006. Noghaideli said technical negotiations between his government and the EU on launching the European Neighborhood Policy program for Georgia started Monday and should be finished by next spring.

"I hope we will be able to come up by then with a solid plan for Georgia," Noghaideli said after meeting European Parliament president Josep Borrell.

The EU had planned to start negotiations on tighter cooperation with all three South Caucasus states, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy program. The negotiations were delayed, however, after Azerbaijan's relations with the EU deteriorated over Baku's ties with the breakaway Turkish Cypriot republic. The EU then later decided to pursue the talks individually.

The EU also wants the European Neighborhood Policy to be negotiated with Egypt and Lebanon. The "ring of friends" policy offers extensive cooperation in political, security and economic matters, reports the AP. N.U.

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