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Georgia Severs Relations with Syria

Georgia says it will sever diplomatic relations with Syria over its decision to recognize the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries.

Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said in a tweet on May 29 that "recognition of [the] independence of [the] historic regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali [South Ossetia], by [the] Russian-manipulated [Bashar al-]Assad regime in Syria is another blatant violation of [international] law by Assad and should be condemned by the [international] community."

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement the same day that it had begun procedures to cut relations with Damascus.

The Georgian response came shortly after a separatist official in Abkhazia and an entity in South Ossetia announced Syria's recognition of independence.

A document on the website of de facto Abkhaz President Raul Khajimba said Abkhazia and Syria "agreed on the mutual recognition and establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries through embassies, which reflects their common [desire] to develop relations in all areas."

The same day, a statement on the website of the self-declared South Ossetian Foreign Ministry said the northern Georgian region and Syria had "established diplomatic relations."

The Syrian state news agency SANA also reported that Damascus had agreed to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia "in appreciation of the supportive positions [they made] toward the terrorist aggression against Syria."

South Ossetia and Abkhazia are Russian-backed separatist regions that have declared independence from Georgia. Russia recognized the regions as independent states following a short war with Tbilisi in August 2008.

There are Russian troops and bases in the two regions.

Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the Pacific island of Nauru have also recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Khajimba's statement said a meeting between the "ambassadors" of Abkhazia, Syria, and South Ossetia had met in Russia on May 28 and "exchanged the relevant notes."

It added that Abkhaz and Syrian officials had recently made "reciprocal trips" and that "close contacts were established."

Source: Voice of America