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Georgia May Leave Commonwealth of Independent States


Georgia's parliamentary speaker says her country could reconsider membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States in response to Russia's ban on the import of Georgian wine.

Nino Burjanadze told parliament that unlike most other Commonwealth members, Georgia cannot sell its wine, tea, and other products on the Russian market and its citizens cannot travel to Russia without visas.

She said Georgia is "ready for constructive cooperation and friendship with Russia, but only if this friendship is two-sided and relations are equal."

Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli expressed doubts about quitting the commonwealth.

Russia says it instituted the ban on Georgia and Moldova because their wine contains unacceptable levels of dangerous chemicals.

Relations between the two countries have been strained recently by disputes over Russian policy toward Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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