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Russia tries to restore friendly ties with Georgia
Updated: 2008-09-19 23:55

MOSCOW -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that his country will do everything possible to restore friendly relations with Georgia, Russian news agencies reported.

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Russia and Georgia have maintained fraternal relations for centuries, Medvedev said, noting that over 1 million Georgians live in Russia and regard Russia as their homeland.

"We ... will do everything possible to restore regular, friendly relations," he said at a meeting with representatives of public organizations.

Meanwhile, Medvedev accused NATO of provoking the conflict in Georgia last month, and called for new pan-European security arrangements.

"What did NATO ensure? It only provoked the conflict, nothing else," he said.

Despite tensions with the West, Medvedev said Russia would not be pushed behind a new Iron Curtain.

"We are in fact being pushed onto the development track which is not based on sound, normal and civilized cooperation with other countries, but rests on autonomous development behind thick walls and an Iron Curtain," he said.

"This is not our track. There is no use in returning to the past. We have made our choice," said the president.

Russia and Georgia fought a brief war last month following the Caucasus state's offensive to retake its breakaway region of South Ossetia. Moscow subsequently recognized the republic along with breakaway Abkhazia as independent states, which led Georgia to sever diplomatic ties with Russia.

Many Western powers have criticized Russia for its counterattack against Georgia and recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and sided with Tbilisi, which aspires for NATO membership.