TBILISI, Georgia, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Georgia's foreign minister this weekend reiterated the former Soviet state has its eye on closer ties with the west rather than Russia.
Maya Pandzhikidze told the television station Rustavi 2 Georgia would not return to the Commonwealth of Independent States nor would it consider restoring diplomatic ties with Moscow.
"Georgia only wants to join two associations: the EU and NATO," Pandzhikidze said. "This is the focus of our entire strategy and there is no question of entering the CIS."
Georgia and Russia remain at odds over the republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which used to be part of Georgia but broke away in 2008 with the assistance of Russia.
Pandzhikidze said Russian troops in the regions were occupying Georgian territory.
Russia's RIA Novosti news agency said the minister's remarks came after Russia's foreign ministry had stated Georgia was welcome to join the CIS but the initiative would have to originate with the Georgians.