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Georgia:  Russian FM's Trip to Abkhazia a Farce


Russia sent its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia on Sunday in a visit that Georgia has described as a "farce."

Lavrov met with Abkhazia's leader, Sergei Bagapsh, to talk about an economic and military cooperation agreement Russia will sign with Abkhazia and the other breakaway region of South Ossetia. Lavrov is also expected to visit South Ossetia.

Lavrov said Russia plans to create what he calls transparent borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, similar to what exists among European Union states. This would mean freedom of travel between the regions and dual citizenship.

Lavrov also criticized NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's comments that Georgia and Ukraine will one day join NATO as irresponsible and inappropriate.

Russia sent thousands of troops into Georgia last month when Georgia tried to retake South Ossetia by force.

Russia has recognized South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence, angering the United States and European Union, which have pledged to support Georgian territorial integrity.

Most Russian troops have pulled out of Georgia under a cease-fire. But Moscow plans to keep 7,600 troops it calls peacekeepers in Georgia and South Ossetia indefinitely. Civilian peace monitors from the European Union are also expected to arrive in Georgia by October 1.

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

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