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U.S. Calls for International Police Force in Abkhazia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Jul.'08 / 11:01

The U.S. Department of State said on July 7 there was “an urgent need” for an international police presence in breakaway Abkhazia.

In a statement the Department of State condemned recent explosions in the breakaway region with the latest in Gali district, which killed four people.

“We note the urgent need for an international police presence in the areas where these bombings have occurred,” it said.

The Georgian government reiterated in a statement also on July 7 that it wanted a joint Georgian-Abkhaz joint police force in Gali and Ochamchire under international supervision.

Sokhumi and Moscow, however, are strongly against any change in the current Russian-led peacekeeping operation in the region.

The U.S. Department of State also called on Russia “to reverse its recent provocative steps in Abkhazia and consult Tbilisi on any future steps in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

Tbilisi wants Russia to revoke its April 16 decision on establishing official links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as to withdraw additional troops brought in Abkhazia as part of the peacekeeping forces.

“We urge the Georgian Government and Abkhaz de facto authorities to build on efforts of the UN Friends group and resume direct talks to elaborate their own peace plan to reduce military tension, provide for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, foster economic cooperation, and pursue a political settlement of the Abkhazia conflict,” the U.S. Department of State said.

The statement does not contain a call for Tbilisi to sign a treaty on the non-use of force – something, which is part of almost every statement made by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Georgia’s conflict zones.

Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, will arrive in Tbilisi on July 9 “to encourage resolution” of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts “purely and solely within the confines of a peaceful resolution,” the U.S. Department of State spokesman, Sean McCormack, said.

He said that Rice's visit also aimed to “encourage Georgia's continuing along the pathway of economic and political reform,” AFP reported.

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