Russia urges Georgia to renounce force in breakaway regions

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Georgia should sign an accord with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, committing itself not to use force in the breakaway regions, the Russian Security Council secretary said Tuesday.
MOSCOW, October 31, (RIA Novosti) - Georgia should sign an accord with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, committing itself not to use force in the breakaway regions, the Russian Security Council secretary said Tuesday.

The issue of Georgia's actions in its breakaway republics, in which Russia maintains a peacekeeping presence, has contributed to tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow, which are in the midst of a diplomatic feud.

Igor Ivanov said: "The first thing [Georgia] should do is to sign an agreement with the parties to the conflict [South Ossetia and Abkhazia] that all problems will be solved peacefully, by political means."

There is a pressing need for dialogue between Tbilisi and the two regions, Ivanov added.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia gained de facto independence from Georgia following bloody conflicts after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Georgia's leadership accuses Moscow of supporting the breakaway regions' drive for full independence.

The pro-Western government of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the South Ossetia, and has vowed to reincorporate the region into Georgia.

In late July, Georgia conducted what it called a police operation in Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge to disarm a rebellious militia leader, which pushed Russia to raise the issue with the UN Security Council.

Earlier this month, the UN Security council adopted a resolution demanding that Georgia refrain from "provocative actions" in Abkhazia.

Ivanov said the existing problems can only be solved at the negotiating table, with the involvement of all sides.

Russia cannot remain indifferent while Georgia violates international agreements, in particular the UN Security Council resolution, which requires that Georgia pull its troops out of the Kodori Gorge, he said.

Ivanov said a referendum in South Ossetia on independence, which is due on November 12, could give Georgia an incentive to resume constructive negotiations.

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