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Russia outlines solution to Georgia tensions

  • Story Highlights
  • Russia says Georgia should talk to breakaway regions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia
  • Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says international powers should not get involved
  • Russia sees Georgia, a former Soviet republic, as inside its sphere of influence
  • Pro-West Georgian government angry at Moscow role in breakaway regions
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- International powers should stay out of the conflict between Georgia and its two breakaway regions, the Russian foreign minister said Friday.

Sergei Lavrov, speaking just after the Russian and Georgian presidents held their first face-to-face meeting, said: "The key to solutions is the direct negotiation of the parties."

Currently Georgian troops line the Kodori Gorge, a mountainous region separating the de-facto republic of Abkhazia and Georgia-governed territory.

Abkhazia views the military presence as a sign of aggression and levels of Russian peacekeepers in the disputed area have increased in recent months.

Lavrov puts those numbers at about 2,500, which he says are in accordance with a 1994 Russia-Georgia agreement allowing up to 3,000.

In regard to the recent deployment of Russian railway troops sent to fix a broken Abkhaz railroad in the disputed area, Lavrov said the exercise was a step toward economic rehabilitation of the area.

The assurance comes amid Georgian worries that Moscow is unfairly intruding into the conflict resolution.

Russia sees Georgia -- a former Soviet republic as inside its sphere of influence -- but Georgia now has a pro-West government and is angry at Moscow's support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

NATO has criticized Russian activities in the breakaway republics, and the European Union's foreign policy chief has been in Georgia this week.

Lavrov said Georgia and Abkhazia should sign an agreement disallowing the use of force in the area.

He described Friday's meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili as very calm and quiet, not confrontational at all.

The two did not discuss the controversial incident of May 20 when a Georgian unmanned reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over the Abkhaz region, he said. Georgia accuses Russia of involvement and Russia denies it.

The Medvedev-Saakashvili meeting came on the sidelines of a two day summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States composed of Russia and the former Soviet Republics.

From CNN Moscow Bureau Producer Mike Sefanov and CNN's Alina Selyukh

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