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Putin Signs Law on Base Pullout from Georgia
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a federal law on the withdrawal of Russian military bases in Georgia, the Kremlin press service said on Thursday.

The law was passed by the State Duma on Oct. 6 and approved by the upper house of parliament on Oct. 13.

Russia inherited four military bases in Georgia from the former Soviet Union and has withdrawn two of them. Nearly 3,000 Russian servicemen are deployed in the Akhalkalaki and Batumi bases.

Russia and Georgia signed an agreement in late March that set out the deadline and details of the pullout of Russian military bases from Georgia. Under the accord, the two sides agreed to complete the phased withdrawal of the Russian bases and other military installations in Georgia by the end of 2008.

Also on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer urged Russia to lift sanctions against Georgia, which were introduced earlier in autumn.

"This is the moment for moderation and de-escalation on all sides, on both sides. Also that means the sanctions, the measures which have been ... put in place, that I would hope that the time has now come to lift these measures," de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after talks in Moscow.

He was referring to sanctions imposed by Russia after Georgia arrested and briefly held four Russian officers on spying charges.

De Hoop Scheffer arrived in Moscow on Wednesday on a two-day working visit, for talks with Russian officials on cooperation between the bloc and Russia.

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2006)

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