German backing for Sarkozy peace mission
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to visit Moscow and Tblisi after consulting with other EU leaders in an effort to end the conflict between Georgia and RussiaParis -- President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which currently chairs the European Union, was expected to fly to Moscow and then to Tbilisi Tuesday to mediate the crisis over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, Elysee Palace said.
Sarkozy spoke by telephone with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev twice Monday. He also spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi about his goal of reaching a ceasefire between Russia and Georgia.
On Tuesday, Sarkozy plans to meet with Medvedev at noon (0800 GMT), and the two leaders are then to hold a joint press conference. Sarkozy then is to travel to Tblisi, where an evening meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was planned.
France early Tuesday flew out 261 French and European nationals from Tbilisi who had been stranded in the Georgian capital because of the closure of its airport.
It used an Airbus A340 with which it had flown in 30 tons of relief goods Monday night to Tbilisi. The blankets, tents and beds were immediately turned over to the French aid group Premiere Urgence, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said Tuesday.
Fighting has escalated since Georgia and Russia came into direct conflict over South Ossetia after Tbilisi launched an offensive six days ago to regain control over the pro-Moscow breakaway region.