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New Georgian president to meet Chirac in Paris

Published on 03/03/2004

TBILISI, March 3 (AFP) - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili heads to Paris next week for a two-day visit during which he is due to meet his French counterpart Jacques Chirac, his press service said Wednesday.

Saakashvili, who swept to the presidency of the former Soviet republic after peacefully ousting its veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze last November, is due to arrive in the French capital on March 8 and leave the following day, it said.

In addition to Chirac, Saakashvili is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and European Affairs Minister Noelle Lenoir.

The visit will be the fourth major trip abroad for the 36-year-old youngest elected head of state in Europe, who has also visited Berlin, Moscow and Washington since his inauguration on January 25.

Saakashvili, a populist who has made fighting corruption a top priority, will take a regular flight from Tbilisi to Paris instead of a charter plane in order to save money, his office said.

The tall polyglot who speaks fluent Russian, English and French in addition to his native tongue and Ukrainian, was elected with 97 percent of the vote on January 4.

Saakashvili led the protests that brought out thousands of people into the streets of Tbilisi following a disputed parliamentary election in what became known as the “rose revolution” and eventually forced Shevardnadze to step down.


                                                              Subject: France news