Russia, Georgia resume security talks: UN

14th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia and Georgia on Thursday resumed internationally-mediated talks in Geneva aimed at preventing another flare-up of violence following their brief war in August 2008, a UN spokeswoman said.

The 13th round of talks, which have also involved representatives of the Moscow-backed breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, began on Thursday morning, UN spokeswoman Elena Ponomareva said.

They are due to last one day.

Mediators from the European Union (EU), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and United Nations acknowledged "real difficulties" after the last meeting in July despite tentative signs of progress.

The latest round of the confidence-building talks, which have sought to build channels of communication between military forces on the ground, came amid heightened tensions in the region.

Georgia last month accused Russian forces in South Ossetia of seizing territory beyond the boundaries of the region, which Moscow recognised as an independent state after the 2008 war there.

A spokesman for Georgia's Interior Ministry, Shota Utiashvili, said on September 30 that the issue would be raised at the Geneva discussions.

Tblisi has also accused Russia of reinforcing its military presence in the two breakaway regions and breaching the ceasefire deal that ended their conflict.

Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been insisting on an explicit agreement on the non-use of force by Georgia during the Geneva talks, a major stumbling block.

Tbilisi says it has already made that commitment with the 2008 ceasefire accord, mediators said.

The talks have also been trying to deal with humanitarian issues, including free movement for local residents in and out of the two regions.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Tbilisi's control during wars in the early 1990s after Georgia gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

But it was after the five day 2008 war that Moscow recognised the two regions as independent states.

© 2010 AFP

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