Restoring Russia-Georgia rail links will be good for Abkhaz issue - Tbilisi official

Restoring rail services between Russia and Georgia would contribute to a peaceful solution to the Abkhazia issue and the return of refugees, Georgia's newly appointed Reintegration Minister Paata Zakareishvili said.

"The restoration of rail links [between Russia and Georgia] will benefit the return of refugees and help tackle this problem in general, especially as the development of transport services will contribute to Abkhazia's economic growth," he said in an interview published in Russia's Kommersant newspaper on Friday.

The number of refugees heading back to Abkhazia increased when the economic situation improved in the republic in previous years, he said.

"The greater the number of projects implemented in Abkhazia with Georgia's participation, the greater the chance we have to resolve the conflict. Such an approach is a part of our strategy to de-isolate Abkhazia," Zakareishvili said.

A situation where Abkhazia would have economic and transport ties only with Russia should be prevented, the minister said.

"My conviction is that we need to help revive transport services via Abkhazia. I mean both train services and road links. At the same time, we should exclude any political agenda and treat this problem exclusively from an economic standpoint," he said.

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