KOKOITY ANNOUNCES "GEORGIA ACKNOWLEDGED RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUMMER 2004 EVENTS" DURING TALKS IN SOCHI

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MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - Leader of South Ossetia (self-proclaimed republic on the territory of Georgia) Eduard Kokoity announced that during his talks with Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania in Sochi (Russian resort on the Black Sea) on Friday, the Georgian side "acknowledged the responsibility for the summer 2004 events." RIA Novosti received this information in a phone interview with chair of the South Ossetian Committee on Information and Press Irina Gagloyeva.

"The Georgian side has also acknowledged the fact that South Ossetia was forced to take defensive actions. We just have to make these statements official by signing respective documents," Ms. Gagloyeva cited the statement made by Eduard Kokoity.

Georgia has not made any comments on the statements of the South Ossetian leader.

Mr. Kokoity believes that the talks with Zurab Zhvania "might have positive results."

"The Ossetian side emphasizes the demilitarization issues and finds it imperative to withdraw all Georgian military units from the territory of South Ossetia, where they are staying illegally at present," Mr. Kokoity stated.

Georgian Deputy State Security Minister Batu Kutelia, who is part of the Georgian delegation in Sochi, confirmed in an interview with Georgian TV channel Rustavi-2 that "during the talks, the sides discussed the demilitarization of the conflict zone, joint control over hills in the zone, and establishment of joint control over the Roksy tunnel. Both side insisted on quick implementation of all these measures in order to achieve peaceful settlement of the conflict in the near future."

Meanwhile, during a press conference in Tbilisi on Friday, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced that Georgia would not allow being drawn into confrontation and large-scale conflict in Tskhinvali region (the Georgian designation of South Ossetia).

"It would be stupid for us to let somebody involve us into some sort of confrontation or provocative situation," said the Georgian President.

Commenting on talks between Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and de facto president of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity in Sochi, the head of the Georgian State pointed out that he "was not overly optimistic" about the meeting.

The conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia erupted in the beginning of the 1990s, when Georgia revoked the autonomy status of South Ossetia and applied harsh punitive measures against the self-proclaimed republic. Since July 1992, the conflict zone has been controlled by a contingent of the Mixed Peacekeeping Forces combining Russian, Georgian and Ossetian military units.

During summer this year the conflict intensified.

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