Solana to visit Georgia as EU deploys monitors-2

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(Adds comments by Russian peacekeepers press center, the Russian Defense Ministry in paragraphs 4-11, recasts paragraphs 12, 13)

TBILISI, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, will visit Georgia on Tuesday to discuss an EU monitoring mission in the country's conflict zones, the Georgian parliament speaker said Monday.

"Our task is to deploy European peacekeepers in the conflict zones. As is known, Russia is opposed to this," David Bakradze said.

Solana is to meet with President Mikheil Saakashvili and visit a South Ossetian refugee camp in the city of Gori.

One hundred and forty EU military observers from 22 countries will replace the Russian peacekeepers in the buffer zone between Georgia and South Ossetia, a spokesman for the Russian peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia said Monday.

"Their principal mission is to monitor the situation in the security zone. However, EU military observers will not be deployed on South Ossetian soil," Lt. Col. Vitaly Manushko said.

Russian peacekeepers will leave the "buffer zones" in Georgia near South Ossetia and Abkhazia by October 10, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed Monday.

The date was agreed on in a peace deal brokered by the EU earlier this month.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that an EU mission to monitor the ceasefire in Georgia had been fully deployed and met Russian forces to discuss their pullback from positions deep inside the Caucasus state.

Lt.Gen. Nikolai Uvarov also said Russian peacekeepers have removed the first five checkpoints in the security zone on the Georgian-Abkhazian border.

"In compliance with its international commitments, in particular the second Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement, Russia has removed the first five peacekeeping posts in the Poti area," he said.

Russian peacekeeping forces have nine posts in the security zone on the border with South Ossetia and three on the border with Abkhazia, where there were eight.

A senior EU official was quoted as saying earlier Monday that more than 300 European Union staff - civilian monitors and support - were on the ground, and had begun deploying to field offices in western and central Georgia.

Moscow launched a five-day operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" after Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to regain control over the republic, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s. A number of Russian peacekeepers and a reported 1,600 South Ossetian residents lost their lives during the Georgian attack.

Russia's response to the Georgian attack was labeled "disproportionate" by a number of Western powers. On August 26, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic, as independent states. So far, only Nicaragua has followed suit.

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