Acting Secretary of the CIS Vladimir Rushailo, who came to Tbilisi the evening before, is to meet with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania. Mr. Rushailo said he came to Tbilisi as part of a tour of making acquaintance of the heads of state and government and foreign ministers of the CIS states. He did not specify the issues he intended to discuss with the Georgian leadership. "The issue of South Ossetia is not on the agenda; if we do discuss it, I will tell you after the meeting," Mr. Rushailo said.

According to the protocol department of the Georgian State Chancellery, the list of issues to be discussed includes the situation in South Ossetia and Georgian views on the conflict settlement, though officially the consultations will be held to discuss the date of the autumn CIS summit.

President Saakashvili, who is making his first official visit to London, had said shortly before that the crisis in South Ossetia could be settled within six months if the West puts pressure on Russia. "The West should continue its pressure [on Russia] and we must make it known that we will not tolerate crude treatment," he told journalists. "I do not expect Britain to be involved in confrontation but hope that it will become part of a multilateral [conflict settlement] mechanism," said Mr. Saakashvili.

Before talking with journalists, the Georgian president expressed to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw his concern over "aggressive statements and even actions of certain forces in Russia" towards Georgia. Jack Straw replied that this is a highly delicate issue and Britain thinks this dispute between Russia as an independent state and Georgia as another independent state should be settled peacefully and reasonably.

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