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Russian ambassador to Georgia backs resumption of air links

TBILISI, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's ambassador to Georgia said Tuesday that resuming air traffic between the two countries, suspended last fall, would improve strained relations between the countries.

"I am in favor of restoring direct air links. I relate this to improving Georgian-Russian relations as a whole," Vyacheslav Kovalenko told journalists at the Russian Embassy.

Russia froze air transport with the South Caucasus state in October following Tbilisi's brief arrest of Russian army officers on spying charges. Russian officials claimed the decision was based on the outstanding debt owed by Georgian airlines to Russia, but Georgia insisted the move was political.

Russia also cut off travel and mail links with its southern neighbor and withdrew its diplomats last year, but since the beginning of this year has moved to mend ties, returning its ambassador to Tbilisi and re-establishing postal links.

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