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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian and U.S. Military Delegations Arrive in Tbilisi

TBILISI, Georgia - High-level military delegations from Russia and the United States arrived in Georgia Monday for talks with officials of the small, Caucasus Mountain country.

The two visits this week were a coincidence, according to the chief of the Russian mission, and there were no talks planned between the Russian and American groups.

However, the overlapping visits underlined Georgia's ambiguous position as a country aspiring to NATO membership but forced to appease its large and powerful northern neighbor as well. Georgia lies on important oil export routes from the Caspian Sea.

The Russian delegation, headed by chief of the general staff's foreign relations department Leonid Ivashov, said he would discuss two Russian military bases on Georgian territory scheduled to be closed according to a 1999 treaty. Russia wants the bases at Batumi and Akhalkalaki to remain open.

"We are neighbors and should cooperate on mutually acceptable terms," said Ivashov after talks with Georgian officials.

The American delegation arrived late Monday and will hold talks Tuesday on reforms in Georgia's army. The delegation was scheduled to meet Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.