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Russian troops start withdrawal from Georgia

Russian troops left their first camp near the strategic port of Poti in western Georgia, in view of the accord concluded on September 8 between Russia and the European Union.

world Updated: Sep 13, 2008 09:47 IST

Russian troops on Saturday left their first camp near the strategic port of Poti in western Georgia, in view of the accord concluded on September 8 between Russia and the European Union.

A file of trucks and armored transport vehicles carrying troops left the observation post of Nabada at 7:45 a.m. (0345 GMT). The camp, which included some 70 soldiers, was set up near a Black Sea beach to control maritime traffic from the port of Poti.

"We shall leave soon. To Abkhazia and Russia," a soldier told AFP several hours ahead of the withdrawal, adding that the convoy would be coordinated "with other control posts" set up around Poti and Senaki.

"They want to make a convoy and then leave one point after the other," confirmed a policeman who was due to escort the troops to Senaki "for security reasons," confiding later that "this way they see who is there."

Under an accord brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, current EU chief, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev committed to withdraw within a month all Russian troops from Georgia apart from those in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and to allow the deployment of 200 EU observers.

Russia has said it will deploy 3,800 troops in each of the breakaway regions and establish military bases there.