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U.S. President Bush to send Rice to France, Georgia

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U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he planned to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to France and then to Georgia.
WASHINGTON, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he planned to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to France and then to Georgia.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Bush said Rice would travel to Paris to assist European diplomatic efforts and then onto Tbilisi "to demonstrate our solidarity with the Georgian people."

"The United States of America stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia. We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected," the U.S. president said.

Bush also said the United States would use military aircraft and naval vessels to transport humanitarian aid to Georgia and insisted that Russia should not obstruct the relief operations, led by Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, by leaving all routes to Georgia open.

"We expect Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads, and airspace, remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for civilian transit," Bush said.

The U.S. secretary of state is expected to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who met Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, eventually working out a plan of six principles to resolve the conflict.

The American president said he hoped that Russia would stick to the plan by stopping all military operations in the region, at the same time expressing his concern over reports that Russian troops allegedly were continuing their advance inside Georgia.

"Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis," he said.

Georgia is continuing its claim that Russian troops are advancing from the Georgian town of Gori towards the capital Tbilisi. Russia has denied the allegations.

Russia has meanwhile sent over 1,700 rescue workers and hundreds of medical personnel to the devastated South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, the emergencies minister said Wednesday. Two field hospitals have been set up in the city. Debris is being cleared and measures taken to prevent any outbreak of disease.

At least 1,600 civilians were killed and more than 30,000 fled across the border to Russia following Georgia's military offensive to regain control of the region which began last Friday.

During the subsequent counter operation to expel Georgian troops from the de facto independent republic and to reinforce Russian peacekeepers, Moscow sent some 10,000 troops and several hundred armored vehicles into the area.

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