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Russia rejects UN truce draft

Latest update : 2008-08-12

Russia's ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin rejected a Western drafted three-point peace plan calling for an immediate truce, saying "I cannot see us accepting this French draft".

Russian troops "push" into Georgia



Russia said Monday it could not a accept a Western proposal in the UN Security Council that urged an immediate truce in its conflict with Georgia because it did not require Tbilisi to renounce the use of force against separatists.
As world pressure grew on Moscow to halt its assault deeper into Georgia, European and US diplomats circulated a truce resolution in the UN Security Council based on a French three-point peace plan.
The text calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities; full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and the withdrawal of forces from both sides to the position they occupied before Georgia sent forces into its breakaway South Ossetia enclave last week.
"The draft was unfortunately prepared without consulting us," Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the council met for the fifth time in four days on the Caucasus conflict.
"It's a premature move ... I cannot see us accepting this French draft," he added, objecting to the fact that it did not refer to "Georgian aggression and to the atrocities we have seen."
Moscow has accused Georgian forces of killing 2,000 civilians as well as Russian peacekeepers in what it described as war crimes.
Churkin however expressed hope that an acceptable draft would eventually be "worked out together with us" and listed two Russian conditions: Georgian forces must pull out of South Ossetia and "the Georgians (must) agree to sign agreements on the non-use of force with the Ossetians and with the Abkhazians."
France's UN deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix told reporters said the sponsors of the draft would "be following very closely the evolution of the diplomatic efforts" in the region.
He was referring to the mediation undertaken by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
Earlier Monday Kouchner and his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb persuaded Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to sign up for the French peace plan.
The two ministers were to present the blueprint to Russian leaders in Moscow on Tuesday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was also to visit Moscow and Tbilisi Tuesday to enlist support for the plan.
The French-drafted resolution, which the sponsors hope to put to a vote later this week, "calls for the immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities, and the complete withdrawal of Russian and Georgian forces to their positions prior to August 7, 2008."
It also stresses the "urgent need for all parties to refrain from further use of force" and calls on "all parties to the conflict to engage immediately in negotiations aimed at finding a peaceful and durable solution."
Meanwhile US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said he received assurances from Churkin that Moscow did not plan to overthrow Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
But the US envoy questioned the motives behind what Washington views as Moscow's "disproportionate" response to the Georgian offensive to wrest control of South Ossetia from Moscow-backed separatists.
"If the Russians' intent has been the return to the status quo ante in South Ossetia, why start a second front from Abkhazia? Why attack the rest of Georgia and why attack the infrastructure of Georgia?," Khalilzad said.
"No legitimate Russian interest can justify the magnitude of the attack," he added.
In Washington, US President George W. Bush also demanded that Russia end its war in Georgia, saying a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of the bloody fighting could harm Moscow's ties to the West.
In his sharpest-yet condemnation of violence, he said: "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."
The council meanwhile heard a briefing from two top UN officials on the latest developments in the conflict that has spread to Abkhazia, another Moscow-backed rebel enclave which broke away from Georgia in the 1990s, as well as other parts of Georgia.
Belgium's UN Ambassador Jan Grauls, the council chair this month, quoted UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping Edmond Mulet as saying UN  observers saw Russian troops entering "into areas of Georgia outside of South Ossetia and Abkhazia."

Date created : 2008-08-12