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Rice Concerned over Increase in Russian Troops in Abkhazia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2 May.'08 / 10:55

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on May 1 that she did not see the necessity for bringing additional Russian peacekeeping troops to breakaway Abkhazia.

The U.S. Secretary of State discussed the current tensions in Georgian-Russian relations with reporters en route to London, where she is to meet with her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, during ministerial-level meetings in the British capital on the Middle East and Kosovo.

“It is extremely important that Russia respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are integral parts of Georgia. They are not lands that are somehow disconnected from the Georgian state. And so, when things are done, they need to be done through the Georgian state,” Secretary Rice said.

She also said that she would raise this issue during the talks with Lavrov in London.

“Now, what the Russians are doing is a part of a peacekeeping mission that they’re involved in. But given the tensions between Russia and Georgia, it would certainly be helpful if Russia and Georgia maintained direct contact,” Rice said. “This is not a time to excite the environment. And so we were very concerned about the movement of those forces. We have talked to both Georgians and Russians to say let’s not let any of this get out of hand.”

Secretary Rice also called for a broad solution for Abkhazia and South Ossetia “that can speak to the needs, the legitimate needs, of these very diverse populations. But that has to be done within the context of Georgian sovereignty.”

When asked whether the United States has asked Russia to withdraw these troops, Rice responded: “We have talked to the Russians about the problem that this kind of behavior really does bring and that it – the tensions that it raises. The fact is, as I understand it, it’s still within certain limits permitted by the peacekeeping arrangements there. But since I don’t believe that Georgia intends to attack Abkhazia, I don’t see the necessity of it.”

 

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