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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lavrov and Georgians Disagree

APSergei Lavrov, on his first visit to Tbilisi as foreign minister, meeting Friday with his Georgian counterpart, Salome Zurabishvili.
TBILISI, Georgia -- Persistent disputes over Russian military bases, borders and other issues prevented any agreements from being reached during a visit Friday by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Georgian officials said.

Lavrov, making his first trip to Georgia in nearly a year as foreign minister, met with President Mikheil Saakashvili, Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili and other Georgian officials in an effort to resolve disagreements that have kept tensions high.

"I wouldn't talk at this stage of progress," Zurabishvili said by telephone. "I think we are, in our relations with Russia, at a very low point."

Russia and Georgia continue to disagree about plans for the withdrawal of two Russian bases and control over the border, which is complicated by the presence of two separatist regions in Georgia with strong Russian ties, said Saakashvili's spokeswoman, Alana Gagloyeva.

"Georgia insists on the swiftest withdrawal of the bases and will not agree with the timeline that the Russian side suggests, which is six to seven years," said Parliament Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze, who also met with Lavrov.

Earlier, Russian officials had said they would need at least 11 years to pull out the bases. Lavrov gave no public indication of any change in the Russian position.

Lavrov and Zurabishvili told reporters the nations would form working groups to discuss the six key issues in relations. Lavrov said there would be "intensive consultation" on the issues, which he identified as the bases, the creation of a joint anti-terrorism center, border delimitation, easing visa rules for travel, settling separatist conflicts and an overall treaty governing relations.