Russia sees positive signals coming from new Georgian leadership - Putin

Moscow sees positive signals coming from Tbilisi and welcomes them, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference on Thursday.

The Russian authorities, however, cannot reconsider their decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, he said.

"We see positive signals, albeit still very reserved, coming from the new Georgian authorities. We certainly both see and welcome all this, including the appointment of the Georgian government's special envoy for relations with Russia," Putin said.

"But Russia simply cannot change its decision linked to recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states," he said.

Russia responded to the appointment of Tbilisi's envoy by putting Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in charge of normalizing relations with Georgia, the president said.

"Otherwise, there would not have been a meeting with Karasin. We have responded in the same way," he said.

"But I would like to draw your attention to one well-known problem. The problem is that the incumbent president, Mr. [Mikheil] Saakashvili, drove this situation into a deadlock. And I, frankly speaking, do not see a way out of it," Putin said.

"But we really want to normalize relations with Georgia," he said.

Georgia announced on September 2, 2008 that it had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia following the armed conflict in South Ossetia. The two countries closed their diplomatic missions on each other's territory.

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