Russian Military Delegation Visits Akhalkalak

TBILISI (Itar-Tass)–Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s international military cooperation department Colonel General Leonid Ivashov is in Georgia on a working visit with a ministry delegation. The delegation came to Tbilisi from Akhalkalak in southwest Georgia–on Tuesday.

"Today in Akhalkalak–we will be solving practical problems–including the cooperation of Russian and Georgian air defense systems within the framework of the CIS air defense–and better protection of the border by troops," Ivashov said.

The Russian military official and Georgian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Vardiko Nadibaidze visited Akhalkalak–a town located near the Georgian-Turkish border–and inspected Russian military facilities.

"In Akhalkalak–we met the local administration and regular people who–in my mind–are against a reduction of Russian troops in the region and a withdrawal of Russian military bases. It is hard to imagine a cooperation closer than the one between Russian servicemen and the local administration in Akhalkalak," the general said.

"Thus–we do not plan to withdraw Russian bases from that region. On the contrary–we plan to consolidate military security in the border zone," Ivashov said. In his words–a statement to that effect "calmed down residents of Akhalkalak."

Georgian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Vardiko Nadibaidze stressed the significance of the trip to Akhalkalak both for Georgia and Russia. "Progress–and agreemen’s–which were not expected or planned–have been reached," he said. The minister–however–did not specify which agreemen’s they had reached.

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