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Russia ready to mend relations with Georgia: FM


08:41, April 12, 2013

MOSCOW, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia stands ready to mend bilateral ties with the new Georgian government, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

Moscow was satisfied with Tbilisi's efforts to solve bilateral issues and is ready to expand trade, cultural, humanitarian and sports contact between the two sides, Lavrov said in an interview with a local TV channel published on the ministry's website.

"(Our) people should remember they used to live together and they used to be friends. We always wanted to be friends, to cooperate with our Georgian neighbors," Lavrov said.

The friendship between Russia and Georgia has not disappeared, but it faces very serious challenges, the foreign minister said.

To put their relations back on track, Russia and Georgia have made several high-level contacts in recent months, including a meeting in Switzerland between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Georgian counterpart Bidzina Ivanishvili.

However, Lavrov said Moscow would never step back from its position on recognizing Georgia's two breakaway regions as independent states.

He added that the tension between Moscow and Tbilisi was caused by the Georgians and the initiative to cease diplomatic relations between the two countries also came from Georgia.

Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August 2008 following brief armed conflicts with Georgia.

Moscow "saw no other option to guarantee the security and survival" of the people from those territories but to recognize their independence from Tbilisi, Lavrov said.

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