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Europe

Talks resume on security in breakaway regions

Latest update : 2009-02-17

Russia and Georgia have resumed security talks on disputed provinces following failed negotiations last year. Moscow and Tbilisi faced off militarily in August over control of Georgia's Russia-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

AFP - Russia and Georgia resumed talks in Geneva Tuesday on security arrangements in the wake of their conflict last year, the United Nations said, two months after they failed to wrap up an agreement.
   
The latest meeting, which is due to last two days, was being held under the joint auspices of the UN, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
   
A UN spokeswoman confirmed that it had got underway with all sides present.
   
UN special representative to Georgia Johan Verbeke said shortly after the last meeting in December that the Russians and Georgians had moved closer to a deal, in contrast to the fragile start to the talks a couple of months beforehand.
   
Verbeke said only two out of the ten issues on the table, related to a mechanism to prevent and resolve security incidents, still needed to be resolved.
   
However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin has described those issues as "obstacles," while acknowledging an improved climate of understanding in the talks.
   
A first attempt at dialogue last October collapsed when Russian and Georgian delegates failed to even sit down in the same room.
   
A month later they accepted informal sessions, allowing the presence of representatives from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Moscow-backed breakaway regions which were at the centre of the conflict last August.
   
On Friday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the UN mission in Georgia for four months, pending the security arrangements for Abkhazia.
   
Russian sent its army deep into Georgia in August to push back a Georgian offensive to regain control of South Ossetia from Russia-backed separatists.
   
Russia later withdrew to within Abkhazia and South Ossetia under an EU-brokered ceasefire, but Tbilisi remains furious at the continued presence of Russian troops in the two breakaway regions.
 

Date created : 2009-02-17

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