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Georgia pays $2 mln debt to resume air links with Russia

TBILISI, March 10 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's largest air carrier has paid Russia $2 million as a part of a debt payment required to resume air transport between the two countries, Airzena Georgia Airways said on Monday.

An agreement on repaying the $3.7 mln debt to Russia's State Air Traffic Management Corporation (Rosaeronavigatsia) was reached during a two-day visit to Moscow last month by a Georgian government delegation for talks on resuming flights.

"We have repaid part of the debt," a spokeswoman for the Georgian carrier said. "It is now up to the Ministry of Economic Development to decide who will repay the remainder."

Moscow imposed a transportation and postal blockade on Georgia in October 2006 in an apparent retaliation for the detention on espionage charges of four Russian army officers.

Russian officials cited commercial reasons, however, saying that Georgian airlines owed more than $3 million for air traffic services. Tbilisi called the move politically motivated.

Last month the Russian Federal Air Navigation Service said the country was ready to resume air flights to and from Georgia from March 30 after Georgia pays off $2 million on March 10.

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