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GEORGIA - RUSSIA

Dead-end talks on Georgia at Security Council

3 min

Members of the UN Security Council faced off over the conflict between Russia and Georgia with little chance of reaching an agreement on a resolution despite repeated talks, diplomats say.

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The UN Security Council Thursday held talks on the Georgia conflict -- the sixth in three weeks -- without reaching any decision, as diplomats had anticipated ahead of the meeting.

Two draft resolutions on the conflict, one sponsored by Russia and the other by France, are still before the 15-member council with no chance of approval for either any time soon, diplomats said.

Western countries insist any resolution must uphold Georgia's territorial integrity, which Russia rejects, claiming a new reality exists on the ground, after it recognized Georgia's rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states on Tuesday.

France's deputy permanent UN representative, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said the Council had been getting closer to a consensus on Georgia, but that Russia's decision "makes it much more complicated to continue this discussion.¨

At Thursday's session, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin once again rebuked fellow diplomats for criticizing Russia's military intervention in Georgia, and drew an ironic comparison to the US-led interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Did you find them yet or are you still looking?" he asked the US envoy, referring to alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq cited as a rationale for invading that country in 2003.

And to European diplomats slamming Moscow's recognition of Georgia's rebel regions, Churkin said: "Where were you when we were discussing Kosovo?"

Kosovo, with a predominantly ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia on February 17 and the United States and many European nations swiftly recognised them.

But the move was vehemently denounced by Russia, Serbia's chief ally on the world stage.

On behalf of his western colleagues, US representative Alejandro Wolff called Churkin's arguments "specious."

"Facts are stubborn. Russia invaded Georgia, it is occupying it and now it is dismembering it," he added.

Representatives of China, Vietnam and Libya, who normally take Russia's side in Council debates, kept silent the whole session.

Thursday's meeting followed a closed session held earlier, in which requests were rejected for representatives of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to participate in the formal Council meeting.

"This morning there was no unanimous support to respond positively to these requests now," Belgian Ambassador Jan Grauls, the Council's president this month, told journalists.

"But the Council will continue to discuss the participation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and will intensify these discussions in view of their participation at a more opportune moment and under a formula to be decided," he added.
 

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