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S. Ossetia, Abkhazia to participate in Geneva security talks2008-10-13 19:50
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday that representatives from Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would take part in security talks scheduled for Wednesday, reports RIA-Novosti.gt-en-newsitem-inside
The upcoming conference in Geneva will discuss future security arrangements for Georgia's rebel republics and the situation in the region as a whole following the brief military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August.
"Representatives from South Ossetia and Abkhazia will most probably participate in the talks, as the Russians requested," the minister told a news conference in Luxembourg.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged last Friday the participation of both republics in Geneva talks saying that they "should take part in all talks on security in the region from the very beginning, as this directly concerns them."
Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia on August 7-8 in an attempt to regain control over the republic, which, along with Abkhazia, split from Georgia in the early 1990s. A number of Russian peacekeepers and a reported 1,600 South Ossetian civilians lost their lives during Georgia's attack on Tskhinvali, the tiny capital of the breakaway province.
Russia subsequently launched a military operation to "force Georgia to peace." The operation was concluded on August 12, with Russian forces deep in Georgia.
In accordance with an EU-brokered peace deal, Russia withdrew its forces from undisputed parts of Georgia ahead of an October 10 deadline. The peacekeepers were replaced by the EU monitoring mission in Georgia.
However, Russia still has several thousand troops inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow recognized as independent states on August 26. Moscow says they are needed to prevent further violence while Georgia calls them an occupying force.
Kouchner acknowledged and welcomed the early withdrawal of Russian troops from the buffer zones in Georgia adjacent to the breakaway republics.
He also said discussions on restarting talks on a new agreement on Russia-EU strategic partnership would continue at an EU summit on October 15-16 in Brussels and at a Russia-EU summit in November in Nice.