Russia Has No Plans to Restore Transport Links With Georgia Soon

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti)–Russia does not intend to restore transport links with Georgia in the near future, the Russian foreign minister said Monday. Russia’suspended transport and mail links with Georgia following a diplomatic scandal caused by the arrest of four Russian officers in Tbilisi for alleged spying in late September. Although the officers were later released, relations between the former Soviet neighbors have yet to recover. "We have no plans to restore [transport] links with Georgia yet," Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with European businessmen. The minister said Russia’s willing to leave the South Caucasus state, following the example of hundreds of Russia’s who have already been evacuated by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, can apply to the Russian Embassy in Georgia. "But I have not heard of a large number of applications," Lavrov said. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Russia and Georgia on Saturday to reduce tension between their countries and said provocative actions in two separatist Georgian regions could get out of control. "We are asking the Georgians and the Russia’s to do everything they can to de-escalate the tensions," Rice told reporters traveling with her from Beijing to Moscow. Rice, who arrived in Russia on a one-day visit, said she was very concerned about persistent tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow and especially the "frozen conflicts" of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "I think we have been clear with both sides that cooler heads need to prevail here," said Rice, pledging to raise the issue in her meeting with President Vladimir Putin. The latest crisis between the two former Soviet states stemmed from Georgia’s brief detention of four Russian servicemen on suspicion of espionage. Putin on Friday told European Union leaders in Finland that Georgia was risking bloodshed by seeking to regain control over the regions by military means. "The rhetoric really needs to be lowered," Rice said. "I would be especially concerned that there would be no rhetoric which might encourage activity — military, provocative activity in these frozen conflicts of Abkhazia or South Ossetia." She added: "I think that (military action) is the kind of problem that could get out of control. I will talk to the Russia’s about that problem."

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