Georgian president urges talks with Russia

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Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Wednesday that his country's conflict with Russia could be resolved through negotiation but accused Moscow of refusing to talk.

"Russia has agreed to no dialogue on a bilateral basis or within the OSCE," Saakashvili said at the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe being held in Kazakhstan.

He repeated a pledge given last month to the European Parliament not to resort to force to try to recover Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

It was in trying to recover South Ossetia in August 2008 that Georgian forces received a bloody nose from Russian troops who briefly invaded the country.

Moscow subsequently recognised both regions as independent states though few other countries have followed suit.

"Our conflict with Russia can be resolved," Saakashvikli said Wednesday. "It can be solved with words, and not with bombs."

Western leaders at the Astana summit called Wednesday for Georgia's territorial integrity to be respected, but Russian President Dmitry Medvedev retorted that Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia was unacceptable.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would reject any summit final declaration containing any reference to a "conflict" in Georgia or the country's territorial integrity.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe aims to prevent conflicts through dialogue and help states recover from conflicts, although the goal sometimes becomes mired in disputes between members and its principle of operating on consensus.

Russia and Georgia have held a series of inconclusive talks in Geneva brokered by the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations, with the next round scheduled for December 16.

© 2010 AFP

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