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Russia prepared to normalize ties with Georgia on conditions: FM


09:01, December 10, 2012

MOSCOW, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russia is prepared to take "sensible steps" toward normalizing relations with Georgia, but on conditions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday.

"When we are told that Georgia wishes to normalize relations with Russia, we are prepared for sensible steps, meeting the interests of citizens, but we wish to understand first in what context," Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, Russia was ready to consider resuming regular air traffic between the two countries, Lavrov told President Vladimir Putin's election agents.

Currently, only charter flights are operating between the two countries.

Russian officials will meet Zurab Abashidze, a special representative of Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, in the near future, said Lavrov.

It was not Russia that severed relations with Georgia, he said. Russia had always worked positively toward facilitating relations between Russian and Georgian citizens, he said.

Georgia cut off diplomatic relations with Russia after a brief armed conflict between them in August 2008 over the control of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said earlier that Moscow would resume contacts with Tbilisi only if Georgia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region.

Despite lack of diplomatic contacts, humanitarian cooperation and cultural exchanges went on between the two countries, said Medvedev. Bilateral trade and economic ties could also be resumed in the future, he said.

Ivanishvili became prime minister after the Georgian Dream coalition he led won general elections in October, defeating the party of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who fought the war with Russia in 2008.

Ivanishvili said in November that Tbilisi would restore ties with Moscow "from a clean page," but insisted the restoration of diplomatic relations be linked to his country's territorial integrity.

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