Georgia reluctant to restore relations with Russia (Lead)

March 3rd, 2012 - 9:59 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, March 3 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Georgia will not restore diplomatic relations with Russia as long as Moscow recognises the independence of disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, deputy Georgian Foreign Minister Sergei Kapanadze has said.

Russia recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, following a five-day war with Georgia. The war began when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, where most residents are Russian passport holders. Russia’s decision has been condemned by many nations.

In response, Georgia, which considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory, broke off broke off diplomatic relations with Russia.

On Friday, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow was ready to scrap visa requirements with Georgia and it was also ready to restore diplomatic relations with Tbilisi.

Lukashevich’s remarks followed Georgia’s decision to introduce visa-free travel for Russian citizens.

“We are ready to introduce a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens on a reciprocal basis,” Lukashevich said. “To that end, the Georgian side should ensure credible security guarantees for Russians visiting Georgia.”

“We also propose restoring diplomatic relations between our countries,” he said.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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