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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Talks Held Over Flights to Georgia

Russian and Georgian officials held talks Monday on the possibility of restoring air travel between their countries, which Moscow suspended last year during a crisis in bilateral ties, officials said.

Andrei Pryanishnikov, a spokesman for Russia's air navigation service, said Russia wanted Georgia to pay off its debt for navigation services provided to its planes in Russia as a condition for restoring regular flights.

Pryanishnikov said the debt amounted to $135,000.

He voiced optimism that an agreement could be reached during the two-day talks in Moscow.

"We need to re-establish ties," he said.

Russia recalled its ambassador, cut air and other transport links with Georgia and initiated a crackdown on Georgian immigrants in September after Georgia briefly detained four Russian military officers accused of spying.

While the four military officers were eventually released, the crackdown on Georgian nationals continued for several weeks. A handful of Georgians died while in custody.

Both countries have said relations must be improved, and President Vladimir Putin sent the Russian ambassador back to Georgia last month.

Relations between the two countries have been strained over Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's efforts to decrease Russian influence and forge closer ties with the West.