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Bern to represent Russia in Georgia

Switzerland will formally represent Russia's interests in Georgia, according to an agreement reached on Saturday between Bern and Moscow.

The decision is "proof of the trust the Russian government has placed in Switzerland," Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said after talks in Moscow with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov said he was thankful for the good services of Switzerland, and that the agreement would contribute to the normalisation of the situation in the region.

Russian troops entered Georgia in August to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The two sides severed diplomatic ties after the war.

Calmy-Rey said Switzerland and Russia wanted to implement the accord as quickly as possible in order to reunite families separated by the fighting.

"It's important over the Christmas holidays that the families are able to get together," she said.

The agreement resembles the model used in Cuba where the United States runs its consular services out of the Swiss embassy in Havana.

On Thursday, Georgia asked Switzerland to represent its interests in Moscow. Calmy-Rey said the Swiss government was prepared to do so if Russia in principle agreed to the idea and the modalities.


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