Putin Says Rail to Armenia Would be in Georgia’s Interest

KIEV (Armenpress/Inerfax)–On the conclusion of CIS summit talks in Kiev– Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to reporters about resumption of railway service between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia–and stressed that railway service extended to Armenia would be in Georgia’s economic and political interests. Putin explained that in becoming a transit country–Georgia would receive "respective income."

For his part the Prime Minister of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia said his country supports the idea of restoring railway traffic between Russia and Armenia. "Back in 1996–Russia–Abkhazia–and Georgia signed a protocol to restore railway traffic between Russia and Armenia through the territory of Abkhazia and Georgia. Regrettably–due to Georgia’s position–the decision has remained on paper [only]."

Concerning the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone–Gagulia described the peacekeeping forces as a firm guarantee of peace in the region. "If a decision is made to withdraw the peacekeepers from the conflict zone–the Abkhaz armed forces would immediately take the entire border with Georgia under their control and will respond harshly to raids by Georgian groups. . . Georgia has been aggravating the situation recently."

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