Russia returns its ambassador to Georgia

Russia's newly returned ambassador to Georgia met with Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili Tuesday, as the two countries moved to improve ties badly strained when Georgia briefly detained four Russian military officers it accused of spying.

Valery Kovalenko, who was recalled by Moscow four months ago, told reporters that he would present his credentials to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday.

"We talked in general about the situation with the conflicts on Georgian territory, which worries us - Russia, greatly; the tense circumstances which are taking shape in South Ossetia in connection with the recent provocative actions," he said after meeting with Bezhuashvili.

Russia recalled its ambassador in September, cut air and other transport links and cracked down on Georgian migrants in Russia amid the spying scandal. Georgia did not recall its envoy to Moscow.

Last week, news that a Russian man allegedly tried to sell highly enriched uranium to Georgian secret services while on Georgian territory threatened to further complicate bilateral relations.

Moscow has watched warily as Saakashvili has sought to pull Georgia out of Russia's orbit and forge closer ties to the West, the AP says.

The Georgian leader has also tried to resolve lingering conflicts with two breakaway regions, which have cultivated support from Russia, and bring them under control. He frequently accuses Russia of encouraging the separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia's state natural gas monopoly dramatically raised prices for Georgia this year, drawing accusations from Tbilisi that the move was politically motivated.

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