Georgia protests Russian statement on its integrity

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TBILISI, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's Foreign Ministry called on Russia Thursday to refrain from making unbalanced statements about its territorial integrity in the wake of a statement made in Moscow on Wednesday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, although it said it recognized Georgia's territorial integrity, called on Tbilisi to take the position of the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia into account in efforts to resolve the long-running conflict and to remember the universally recognized principle of self-determination.

But the Georgian ministry hit back in a statement: "The Georgian Foreign Ministry expresses its firm protest and urges the Russian side to refrain from unbalanced rhetoric and accept a proposal on beginning talks on Georgian visas for Russian peacekeepers and fix the route of their movements."

With the two countries trading accusations over the terms of peacekeepers in the region, the ministry said Georgia had agreed to invite Russian peacekeepers on the condition that Russia acknowledged its territorial integrity.

"Any attempt to revise the principle of territorial integrity will alter the contents of the peacekeeping operation and the status of peacekeepers," the ministry said.

The ministry also criticized the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement on possible independence for South Ossetia and said Russia "could not help resolve the conflict in the Tskhinvali Region [South Ossetia]."

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