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Georgian President Faces 3rd Day of Protests

Thousands of determined protesters demonstrated in the Georgian capital for a third consecutive day, calling on the president to step down.

Saturday's demonstrations follow large rallies outside the parliament building in Tbilisi on Thursday and Friday.

At least 60,000 people blocked the capital's main avenue Thursday, while about 25,000 demonstrators gathered outside the parliament on Friday.

Protest leaders promise the demonstrations will continue until President Mikheil Saakashvili resigns, but they have agreed to a one-day break on Sunday, when Orthodox Christians mark Palm Sunday.

Following Thursday's rallies - the largest protests against Mr. Saakashvili since he took office in 2003 - the president called for dialogue. Opposition leaders said Friday that they were willing to talk, but no meeting has been announced.

Opposition leaders, including many of the president's former allies, accuse Mr. Saakashvili of being authoritarian and of leading the country into a disastrous war with Russia last year.

The U.S. State Department on Friday urged the government and opposition to avoid violence. A spokesman said the right of peaceful protests is part of building a democracy.

Opposition groups accused the Georgian government of detaining their members and stopping supporters from attending Thursday's rally. Police denied the claims.

There have been no signs of the government attempting to use force to disperse the anti-government protests as it did in 2007.

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