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Sarkozy meets Medvedev ahead of Georgia troop deadline

Latest update : 2008-10-08

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is meeting Nicolas Sarkozy in Evian two days before a deadline for Russian troops in Georgia to withdraw to their former positions. The French president negotiated the ceasefire in the August war with Georgia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was to hold talks Wednesday with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered the ceasefire in Moscow's war with Tbilisi, two days before a deadline for the pull-back of his troops.
  
The French and Russian leaders were to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of an international policy conference in Evian, in the French Alps, after each giving a speech before the conference.
  
Meeting over lunch, they were set to review Moscow's adherence to the EU-backed peace plan in Georgia and the outlook for EU-Russia relations, as well as possible joint action to tackle the global financial crisis.
  
Russian forces Wednesday abandoned posts in two "buffer zones" which they had seized around Georgia's rebel South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions. This major withdrawal was expected to be completed during the day.
  
Under the EU peace plan, Russian forces are to pull back by Friday from the buffer zones to positions they held before the August conflict, inside the two Moscow-backed rebel regions.
  
At least 200 EU observers deployed in the buffer zones last week, and the Kremlin said Tuesday it would hold the EU responsible for security there.
  
Sarkozy, whose country holds the European Union presidency, last met Medvedev on September 8 when he flew to Moscow to put pressure on Russia to shore up the fragile peace in Georgia.
  
The two leaders were also expected to discuss the escalating global fallout from the US banking crisis.
  
Medvedev said in a Kremlin video Tuesday he would use his Evian visit to call for a joint response to the crisis, as well as repeat calls for a new European security pact.
  
"The problems of international politics, the crisis in the financial system, require immediate joint action," Medvedev said.
  
"I will speak in Evian of the need to find common responses to the global upheaval in the economy."
  
Trading was frozen Wednesday on Russia's two main stock markets after they plunged more than 11 percent on opening, driven downward by huge falls in Asia, despite Moscow boosting its bank rescue package by 36 billion dollars (26.6 billion euros).
  
The Russian leader was also to repeat a call, made during a visit to Berlin in June, for a "regional pact" on European security to replace a system held over from the Cold War era.
  
"The old security system has shown its total inefficiency... Events in Iraq, in Kosovo, in the Caucasaus, in Afghanistan and many other regions are evidence of this."
  
"I am convinced we need to go further and discuss concrete measures," he said.
  
The 27-nation EU last month froze negotiations on a new partnership with Russia over its actions in Georgia, though it stopped short of sanctions.
  
The Russian proposal has so far received a lukewarm welcome from the Europeans, who perceive it as a bid to rein in the influence of the United States and NATO on the continent.
  
The French president held off officially confirming his attendance at the Evian conference until the last minute, apparently until it became clear Russian troops were keeping to their commitment.

Date created : 2008-10-08

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