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Putin Says Georgian Regions to Decide Moscow Troop Presence


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says it is up to Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to decide how many Russian troops can stay in their territories.

Russian news agencies Saturday quote the prime minister as saying the decision will be made based on international law and agreements between Russia and the regions, which Mr. Putin defined as "countries."

Despite strong protests from the West, Russia has formally recognized both breakaway territories as independent states, and has established diplomatic ties with them.

Russia faced international condemnation for sending troops and tanks into Georgia last month, after Georgia tried to retake control of the separatist region of South Ossetia.

Western countries have called on Russia to withdraw nearly all its forces from Georgia under a French-brokered cease-fire agreement.

Russia has withdrawn troops from some regions around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but Moscow has said it will indefinitely station 7,600 troops inside those territories.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.