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EU Criticizes Putin's Abkhazia Visit

The European Union has criticized Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Wednesday visit to Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia.

In a statement, the EU said it does not consider the visit helpful to stability in the region and expressed support for Georgia's territorial integrity.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, echoed the European Union call for respecting Georgia's territorial integrity. He said Russia should respect Georgia's internationally-recognized borders as well as its commitments in cease-fire agreements that halted last year's Georgian-Russian conflict.

Mr. Putin's one-day trip to the Georgian breakaway territory was the first by a top Russian official since Moscow last year recognized Abkhazia's independence after the conflict.

While in Abkhazia, Mr. Putin pledged Russia's strong backing - including military support, if necessary, for the breakaway republic.

Meanwhile, Russian news reports say two people were killed and several others wounded in a bomb blast during Mr. Putin's visit.

The reports quote authorities as saying the blast in the resort town of Gagra killed a 52-year-old woman and wounded four others. A second victim died later in a hospital.

Authorities say no one was hurt in a second blast, which occurred in the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi, shortly after Mr. Putin departed the city and returned to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.