* Russia, Georgia set to resume trade ties
* Relations shattered by 2008 war
MOSCOW Feb 4 Russia agreed in principle on
Monday to lift an embargo on imports of wine and mineral water
from Georgia, a first step towards rebuilding relations
shattered by their 2008 war.
Water and wine trade could resume in months, seven years
after Russia banned two of its small southern neighbour's main
exports as tension mounted before the five-day war.
Prospects of a thaw in relations between the former Soviet
republics have improved since Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his
fortune doing business in Russia, became Georgia's prime
minister after a parliamentary election last October.
"We have agreed to revive our commercial relations," Levan
Davitashvili, the head of Georgia's National Wine Agency, told
reporters after talks with Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's
consumer protection service chief.
Russian representatives will go to Georgia, possibly as
early as next week, to look at the quality control system. They
will also begin visiting wine and water producers that have
applied for permission to export to Russia, Onishchenko said.
Diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia were severed
in 2008 but they held direct talks about bilateral relations in
Geneva in December, and last month the Georgian Orthodox Church
leader Ilia II met the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and
President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has had particularly poor relations with Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili. He remains in power but his party
lost control of the government in the October election and is
barred from seeking a new term in a presidential vote to be held