No mea culpas expected from Russia, Georgia

July 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM
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TBILISI, Georgia, July 3 (UPI) -- Work is under way to repair diplomatic ties with Moscow but few breakthroughs are expected before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Georgia's prime minister said.

Russia is host of the 2014 Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, near the border with Georgia and both nations have been working on improving bilateral diplomatic affairs. Russian President Vladimir Putin caused a stir this year when he ordered snap military drills near Sochi in preparation for the Games.

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Wednesday no major breakthroughs would be made before the Winter Olympics begin in February.

"We are working on resuming regular flights between Moscow and Tbilisi. There are ongoing negotiations on visa facilitation and even the abolition of visas," he was quoted by Russia's official RIA Novosti as saying. "But one thing is problematic, for example, the construction of barriers at the borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili took his country to war with Russia in 2008 over claims to the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A Russian border fence built last month near the border of the republics sparked additional concerns.

Georgia aspires to join NATO. It's the largest contributor of forces to the international mission in Afghanistan among non-NATO members.

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