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Lavrov Dismisses Calls for Russian Pull Out from Akhalgori
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Oct.'08 / 12:42

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the agreements reached between the Russian and French presidents did not envisage a Russian troop withdrawal from Akhalgori.

“I’ve heard that some European representatives are expressing regret that the Russian peacekeepers have not been pulled out from the Akhalgori district,” Lavrov told Russian journalists in Dortmund on October 12, where he met with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“This totally contradicts the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, because this plan says – and it is written in black and white – that we will pull out from the areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia and that has been done.”

“Akhalgori is within the South Ossetian boundaries; hence provisions of the plan do not cover it [Akhalgori],” he added.

When asked if Russia was in full compliance with the ceasefire accords, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said during his visit to Georgia on October 10: “I think so, but partly.” He acknowledged that the presence of Russian forces in Akhalgori was “a problem we are aware of,” which would be on the agenda at international talks in Geneva planned to start on October 15.

The Russian foreign minister also said on October 11 that the South Ossetian and Abkhaz authorities should be represented at the Geneva talks “as equals with all the rest.”

“The talks on security in the region will not have any results without the full participation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” Lavrov added.

Representatives of the two breakaway regions are expected to take part in the Geneva talks, but only at informal working meetings, not at the plenary session, which will open on October 15 and which will involve Russia, Georgia and the United States. The talks will be held under the auspices of the EU, UN and OSCE.

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