All parties present in Russia-Georgia security talks: UN

27th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia, Georgia and the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were involved in a fresh round of internationally mediated security talks in Geneva on Tuesday, the United Nations said.

The talks are aimed at preventing another flare-up in violence over the two Russian-backed rebellious regions following Russia and Georgia's five-day war in August 2008 over South Ossetia.

A senior Abkhaz official had signalled last month after the previous meeting that Abkhazia would temporarily withdraw from the discussions because of a lack of tangible progress.

However, UN spokeswoman Elena Ponomareva said all sides were present at the 12th round of talks mediated by the world body, the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"They have already started," she told AFP. "Everyone is present."

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.

Moscow recognised the two regions as independent states last after the 2008 conflict, and tensions have ebbed and flowed since then.

Western countries including the United States and France have stepped up criticism of Russia's continued military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in recent weeks.

The Geneva discussions have struggled to bolster contact between opposing military forces on the ground and deal with humanitarian issues including refugees.

© 2010 AFP

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