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Medvedev urges S. Ossetia, Abkhazia participation in Geneva talks2008-10-10 19:43
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that representatives of South Ossetia and Abkhazia should take part in Geneva talks on the regions' future status, scheduled for October 15, reports RIA-Novosti.gt-en-newsitem-inside
"It is essential for us that our partners from South Ossetia and Abkhazia take part in all talks from the very beginning, as this directly concerns them," Medvedev told journalists in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
The upcoming conference in Geneva will discuss the future security arrangements in Georgia's rebel republics and the situation in the region as a whole in the aftermath of a brief military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August.
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.
Under an EU-brokered peace deal, Russia agreed to pull its peacekeepers out of undisputed parts of Georgia by October 10, leaving troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow recognized as independent states on August 26.
Russia notified the EU of its completion of the full withdrawal of its peacekeepers from buffer zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Wednesday. However it still has several thousand troops inside the breakaway regions. Moscow says they are needed to prevent further violence while Georgia calls them an occupying force.
The peacekeepers were replaced by the EU monitoring mission in Georgia two days ahead of the stipulated ceasefire deadline of October 10.
Georgia claims however that Russia will not be in compliance with the ceasefire deal until it pulls its troops back to positions held before August's five-day war. Moscow, which plans to station some 7,600 soldiers in the two rebel regions, says its withdrawal from the buffer zones means it is already in compliance with the terms of the ceasefire.