Thursday, April 23, 2009

Russia, Georgia, Separatists To Start New Talks - EU Monitors

Security officials from Georgia, Russia and the rebel region of South Ossetia will start talks with international observers on Thursday aimed at preventing violent incidents, E.U. monitors said.
The planned talks on the border between Georgian- and South Ossetian-controled territory will be the first such meeting to be held on the ground since last summer's war between Russia and Georgia.

The meeting comes after the three sides agreed to hold regular talks on "incident prevention" during internationally mediated negotiations in Geneva in February.

"We're very pleased that the arrangements have been made to get all the parties together for the first time," said Steve Bird, a spokesman for the European Union mission observing a ceasefire that ended the war.

"The long-term goal is to have regular weekly meetings to discuss incidents and to try to build up security and stability in the region," he said.

The meeting will include senior officials from all sides and international monitors from the E.U. and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Bird said.

Eventually talks will be expanded to include the U.N. and representatives of another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, he said.

Sporadic violence has continued around South Ossetia since the E.U.-brokered ceasefire was signed in August, ending a brief conflict over the rebel region.

Russian forces poured into Georgia in August in response to a Georgian military attempt to retake South Ossetia, which broke free of Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s and had received extensive backing from Moscow for years.

Russian forces occupied swathes of territory and bombed targets across Georgia before mostly withdrawing to within South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow recognized as independent states.

A new round of talks aimed at preventing another war is to take place in Geneva on May 18-19.

1 comment: