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Abkhazian Separatists Threaten Force if Georgian Administration Set Up There


Separatists in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia have threatened to use force if the central government sets up its own local administration in the area.

Georgian President Saakashvili said Thursday that he intends to transfer operations of the Abkhazian government-in-exile to the republic's Kodori Gorge area. Georgian troops this week successfully put down a rebellion there by a local warlord.

Leaders of the separatist government responded Friday by saying they reserve the right to meet such an action with force.

The separatist government is closely allied with Russia. Moscow has had peacekeepers in the republic since it declared independence in the early 1990s. Georgia has vowed to bring Abkhazia back under central government control.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it appears that Georgia intends to solve its secessionist conflicts by force.

Mr. Saakashvili has repeatedly denied this.

Meanwhile, separatist Abkhazian negotiators broke off regular four-way talks about the situation in the republic because of the presence of a representative of the government-in-exile.

Georgia and Abkhazian government officials, Russian peacekeepers, and U.N. observers normally hold weekly discussions, but the Georgian delegation brought a member government-in-exile to the meeting on Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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