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Shevardnadze gets a double boost

President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia has received a boost in his multi-front battle against armed opponents, with the return to his side of a top aide of ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, and an offer by Abkhazian separatists to negotiate peace, AFP reports from Tbilisi.

The defector, Igor Georgadze, recently joined ranks with Mr Gamsakhurdia, becoming one of his military advisers after deserting from Mr Shevardnadze's camp, where he had been one of the government's top military representatives in the struggle against separatists in Abkhazia.

Abkhazian separatists announced that they were ready to resume negotiations with Georgia's leadership. They said their only condition would be a recognition of the right of Abkhazians to self-determination.