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Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

World

France’s Hollande to visit Georgia as Ukraine crisis rages

Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

This visit comes at a time of high tensions in the region, as the crisis in Ukraine triggers an increasingly strident war of words between the West and Russia.

TBILISI - French President Francois Hollande will soon visit Georgia as Paris seeks to boost ties with the pro-Western ex-Soviet country, his foreign minister said on Thursday.

The French leader's visit - due in May - will come at a time of high tensions in the region, as the crisis in Ukraine triggers an increasingly strident war of words between the West and Russia.

"The French president will be here in a few days, the visit is being prepared," Laurent Fabius said on a joint visit to Georgia with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The two foreign ministers were in Tbilisi a day after having visited Moldova in an attempt to boost both countries' bid to formally sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union.

The agreement is the same one that was rejected by then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in November under Russian pressure, triggering mass protests against his rule.

The rallies led to his ouster in February and Moscow's takeover of Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea in March.

The crisis in Ukraine is of particular concern to Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2008.

Moscow has several thousand troops stationed in the country's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which it recognised as independent states.

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