First Part of Russian Material to Be Withdrawn in May

TBILISI (Prime-News/OSCE)–The first train loaded with military equipment from Russian military bases will be removed from Georgia in mid-May.

"According to the negotiated plan–the train will be loaded with armored vehicles of the 62nd military base of Akhalkalaki," reported Interfax–quoting Vladimer Quparadze–Deputy Commander of Group of Russian Forces in South Caucasus.

According to him–Valeri Evnevich–Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Russian Land Forces has arrived in Georgia to negotiate the details of base withdrawal from Georgia with the representatives of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia.

The bases are being dismantled under an agreement signed last week between Russia and Georgia on the temporary functioning and withdrawal of Russian military bases and other military facilities deployed in Georgia.

Under the agreement–Russia would complete the withdrawal of the military base in Akhalkalaki by 2007–and finalize the closure of the military base in Batumi by 2008.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office–Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht–has welcomed the agreement between the two countries.

"This agreement marks significant progress in the talks between the Russian Federation and Georgia–and is a way forward in the establishment of good neighborly relations between the two countries," said Minister De Gucht.

"It also contributes to enhanced confidence among the countries of the region," he added. "The Chairmanship remains ready to promote OSCE assistance in support of the implementation of the agreement–should this be requested by the Russian and Georgian Governmen’s."

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