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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.N. Optimistic About Return of Peacekeepers

TBILISI, Georgia - A U.N. official said Tuesday he was optimistic about the return of two peacekeepers taken hostage by gunmen in Georgia, and government television reported that negotiators had worked out a deal for their return.

The U.N. officers, one Greek and one Polish, went missing Sunday in the Kodor Gorge area in Abkhazia, a province of Georgia on the Black Sea coast that won de facto independence following a 1992-3 civil war.

"The Georgian authorities have expressed hope that the officers will soon be released and that they are in good condition," said Veselin Kostov, political adviser at the U.N. office in Georgia's capital Tbilisi.

Meanwhile, President Eduard Shevardnadze's representative in the Kodor Gorge region said the officers' captors had been contacted and that a deal had been worked out under which the two would be turned over to authorities. ?The release will take place without any conditions? such as ransom, said presidential representative Emzar Kvitsiani.

Officials in Greece identified one of the officers as Greek army Captain Efstathios Kokkinides. The Polish Defense Ministry identified the other as Lieutenant Cololonel Zbigniew Blechacz.

The incident was the latest in a string of kidnappings in Georgia. Two Spaniards were abducted Nov. 30 outside Tbilisi and their whereabouts remain unknown.