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The News in Brief

Tuesday, March 18

Saakashvili begins official US visit

President Mikheil Saakashvili began an official trip to the US yesterday. He is scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The two sides will discuss bilateral relations, democratic reform in Georgia, the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations, conflict issues, energy security, and Georgia’s presence in Iraq.

Saakashvili is accompanied by Foreign Minister Davit Bakradze, Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili and other government officials. They will return to Georgia on March 20. (Black Sea Press)

Dismissed employee sets fire to university

A recently-dismissed employee of Tbilisi State University used lighter fuel to set fire to two rooms in the university yesterday morning.

The woman, named as Tamar Chkonia, a long-time employee, had worked at the university archive department. Security guards managed to put the fire out.

Chkonia was subsequently arrested. (Prime News)

NGOs demand to meet Levan Tarkhnishvili

NGO representatives demanded to meet Levan Tarkhnishvili, chairman of the Central Election Commission yesterday.

“We demand a meeting with Tarkhnishvili, who falsified the presidential elections, and ask him why he did not resign on March 15, as promised by Nino Burjanadze, Parliamentary Speaker, to the society and the opposition,” said Davit Liluashvili, leader of the Coalition for our Rights NGO. (Prime News)

Government to begin fuel distribution today

The government is due to begin distributing fuel today, as part of its 50-day action plan.

Agriculture Minister Petre Tsiskarishvili told journalists that around 900 000 families will receive 20 liters of diesel, at a total cost of GEL 30 million. (Black Sea Press)

Nino Burjanadze meets Romanian senate delegation

Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze received a Romanian delegation led by President of the Romanian Senate Nicolae Vacaroiu yesterday.

“There are positive relations between Georgia and Romania. We discussed a wide range of issues. The year 2008 is decisive both for Georgia and Romania in view of the forthcoming elections. In Romania, we have drafted a law which will see all seats in the Romanian Senate become majoritarian,” Vacaroiu said.

Burjanadze called for Romania to send election observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The two sides discussed prospects for future cooperation, including simplifying the visa regime, Burjanadze said after the meeting. (Black Sea Press)

International conference on the role of the church in the South Caucasus to be held in Tbilisi

A two-day international conference on the subject, “Churches and Religious Community in South Caucasus,” began yesterday at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel.

The conference was organized by the European Peoples’ Party in the European Parliament and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze was due to deliver a speech on the opening day of the conference. Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II, as well as religious figures from France, and Kazakhstan were due to attend. (Black Sea Press)