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Solana in Tbilisi ahead of EU monitoring mission

Latest update : 2008-10-01

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and address European monitors who will be overseeing compliance that Georgia and Russia are honouring the EU-brokered peace plan.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana expressed confidence Tuesday that Russia would respect a peace plan calling for its forces to pull back from deep inside Georgia.

"I am optimistic that all the parties will comply, as we have done, to the terms of the agreement," Solana said ahead of Wednesday's launch of an EU mission to monitor the truce in Georgia after its August war with Russia.

"The objective of this mission is to allow Russian forces to withdraw," said the EU diplomatic chief.

Under the peace plan brokered by the European Union, Russia is due to draw back its troops from "buffer zones" around the rebel Georgian region of South Ossetia.

Reacting to Russian statements earlier that EU monitors would not immediately enter a Russian-controlled buffer zone around the rebel region of South Ossetia, Solana said the EU foresaw a "phase-by-phase" deployment.

The so-called European Union Monitoring Mission of more than 300 personnel would "start tomorrow, they will not be done tomorrow (with) all the deployment," he said.

Solana added: "For the EU to be here in a friendly country, to try to help stabilise and normalise lives, with people deployed on the ground, is a responsibility but also a great honour."

He said he hoped the mission would contribute to "the objective that the people of Georgia and the EU want to have a deeper and more profound relationship."

Date created : 2008-09-30