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Russia to Receive Georgia Delegation to Discuss End to Trade Ban

Russia will issue visas to an official Georgian delegation for talks on reopening its market to wine and mineral water from the former Soviet state.

The Russian interests section at the Swiss Embassy in Georgia will issue the visas, the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement posted on its website today. Russia’s public health chief Gennady Onishchenko said Jan. 24 that the negotiations are due to take place in Moscow early next month, state news service RIA Novosti reported.

Russia welcomes the “positive signals” sent by Georgia, President Vladimir Putin said Dec. 20. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who came to power after the defeat of Western-allied President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party in October elections, has called for better ties with Russia.

Russia in 2006 imposed a ban on Georgian wine, mineral water and agricultural products after a spy scandal, depriving the Caucasus nation of its biggest foreign market. It extended the embargo to postal and transport links after the two countries in 2008 fought a war over a Georgian breakaway region. While flights restarted in 2010, the trade ban is still active.

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