Georgia has decided to “unilaterally cease fire” in a sign of its willingness to defuse tensions, Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, said at a press conference in Tbilisi at 6:40pm local time.
“We have decided not to return fire for a certain period of time. This move is yet another attempt by us to convince the separatists that a military confrontation is pointless,” Iakobashvili said. “Military confrontation may lead to many casualties, so we are ready to hold talks and defuse tensions.”
“We are unilaterally ceasing fire, but we are doing it not because we are afraid of anyone, but because we want peace. We hope that this message will be properly received by them [the South Ossetian side], and that they will stop shelling our civilian population.”
Iakobashvili also said that the decision was taken by the Georgian side after he had met Marat Kulakhmetov, the commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces, in Tskhinvali this evening.
Iakobashvili said that he had been unable to get in touch with Boris Chochiev, the chief South Ossetian negotiator. “He is not responding,” Iakobashvili said. “And Kokoity [the South Ossetian secessionist leader] is not in Tskhinvali.”