France insists Russia withdraw troops from Poti-Senaki area

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As current European Union president, France "keeps insisting" Russia withdraw its troops from the Poti-Senaki corridor, the French Foreign Ministry said Monday.
PARIS, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - As current European Union president, France "keeps insisting" Russia withdraw its troops from the Poti-Senaki corridor, the French Foreign Ministry said Monday.

"We keep insisting in talks with the Russian authorities on the importance of a fast withdrawal of troops from the Poti-Senaki highway, the area adjacent to Abkhazia, and on the necessity to observe the fifth principle of the agreement [between the Russian and French presidents]," a spokesman for the French ministry said.

Deputy chief of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Monday that the location of a Russian peacekeeping checkpoint near the Georgian port of Poti was in line with international agreements, which were not violated by Russian servicemen patrolling in the area.

The French spokesman said the fifth principle envisions "return of the Russian armed forces to the line preceding the start of hostilities."

"The Poti port is a vitally important organ for Georgian economy's normal operation," he said, adding that France advocated "independence and territorial integrity of Georgia in its internationally recognized borders."

As holder of the rotating EU presidency, France will convene September 1 an extraordinary summit of member states to discuss the Georgian conflict, the spokesman added.

Russia and France agreed on August 12 six principles of settling the Georgian conflict, including the non-use of force, an end to hostilities, free access to humanitarian aid, return of Georgian troops to their bases and Russian troops to their earlier positions, and a start for international discussion of the status of South Ossetia and the other Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia.

Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to take back the separatist republic, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s.

Most people living in South Ossetia have Russian citizenship and Moscow subsequently launched an operation to "force Georgia to accept peace." The operation was concluded on August 12.

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