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    GEORGIA SENDS TROOPS TO CONFLICT ZONE INSTEAD OF WITHDRAWING THEM

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    ROME, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Rome, after talks with his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, that he had not received information on additional troops Georgia had allegedly sent to the zone of its conflict with South Ossetia.

    Mr Lavrov was asked that question in the wake of media reports that Georgia had dispatched 200 interior troops to the conflict zone.

    Mr Lavrov said the Mixed Control Commission for settling the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia was holding a meeting in Moscow. Among other things, the conferees are discussing the need to pull out all illegal armed groups from zone where Russia's peacekeeping contingent is deployed, according to the minister.

    "If reports that Georgia sent more troops instead of withdrawing available troops from the zone are confirmed, that is an alarming news," said Mr Lavrov.

    The Russian minister added that by doing so Georgia would mean to thwart the efforts being taken in Moscow.

    Meanwhile, Dmitry Medoyev, the envoy of the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, has told a news conference in Moscow that the appearance of Georgian troops in the conflict zone would not promote the goals being set by the participants in the current Moscow meeting of the mixed commission.

    "While the commission is holding a meeting, the Georgian authorities sent troops to the zone of the Russian peacekeeping contingent's responsibility. We believe this is an attempt to thwart talks, which will aggravate tensions," said Mr Medoyev.

    South Ossetia reported some 600 interior troops had been deployed near the border of South Ossetia's Dzhava district, while 200 of them were deployed on South Ossetian territory. The zone under the peacekeepers' responsibility stretches along South Ossetia's border and covers 7 kilometres on both sides of the border, according to Mr Medoyev.

    Mr Medoyev was bewildered by the inaction of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that had not responded in any way to Georgia's destructive actions in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict zone. "The OSCE is taking a rather frustrating position. The organisation does not seem to be provided with information or it is probably unwilling to have it," said Mr Medoyev.

    However, Mr Medoyev said the mixed commission would hopefully adopt a final protocol. "They are doing a constructive job," he said.

    When pressed for comments on Tbilisi's demand to open a combined post near the Rok tunnel, Mr Medoyev said the commission was not authorised to adopt decisions on the matter as the Rok tunnel was outside the conflict zone.

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