Russia, Georgia resume talks in Geneva
This week, Russia started its biggest military exercises in the Caucasus since its war with Georgia last August.Geneva -- The sixth round of talks between Russia and Georgia since their war last August opened Wednesday in Geneva, with diplomats expected to raise issues linked to the end of the UN and OSCE missions in the region.
Russians, Georgians and representatives from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, arrived for the meeting held under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union, and the United Nations, an AFP reporter witnessed.
According to diplomats close to the discussions, Russia intends to raise the issue that the end of OSCE and UN presence in the conflict zone could put into question their continued participation in the talks.
The last mandate of the OSCE mission in Georgia expired on Tuesday.
Russia has also vetoed a draft resolution aimed at extending the UN mission in Georgia (MONUG) deployed in Abkhazia since a conflict in 1993.
On Tuesday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the UN is ready to remain engaged in the Caucasus region despite the ongoing withdrawal of its observer mission in Georgia.
He has also asked his special representative to the area, Johan Verbeke, "to continue to represent the United Nations at the ongoing Geneva international discussions on security and stability and on the return of internally displaced persons and refugees."
Verbeke was among those present Wednesday at the talks, which are aimed at securing an accord on security arrangements in the region as well as finding solutions for people displaced by the conflict.
However, the discussions have until now been marred by tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi.
Just this week, Russia started its biggest military exercises involving 8,500 troops in the Caucasus since its war with Georgia last August.
Georgia has swiftly condemned as "dangerous" the week-long war games, which are taking place just north of where Russia and Georgia fought over the pro-Moscow breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.