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    Lavrov says UN talks on Georgian drone futile without Abkhazia

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    Russia's foreign minister said a UN Security Council meeting to be held on Friday on a dispute over a downed Georgian spy plane will be futile without the participation of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia.

    MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said a UN Security Council meeting to be held on Friday on a dispute over a downed Georgian spy plane will be futile without the participation of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia.

    On Wednesday, Georgia asked the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to discuss an incident involving a Georgian unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in Abkhazia on April 20, which Georgia and the UN claim was shot down by Russia.

    "It will be senseless to consider this issue without Abkhazia. Their exclusion from these talks illustrates the unhealthiness of this idea," Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

    "The essence of this crisis is that Georgia is crudely breaching its obligations. This was not a single plane - seven of them were shot down, and there were more in flying over the conflict zone, which under a UN Security Council resolution must not be a zone of military activities."

    The Security Council session will take place at the UN headquarters in New York at 6:00 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT).

    Abkhazia claims its air defenses shot down seven Georgian surveillance drones this year, one on May 8, two on March 18 and April 20, two on May 4 and further two on May 12.

    In a report released on Monday, the UN mission in Georgia backed Georgia's claim that the drone was shot down by the Russian Air Force over the breakaway region of Abkhazia. Russia says the video footage provided by Georgia as evidence was doctored.

    The UN report also criticized Georgia for carrying out reconnaissance flights over Abkhazia, saying such flights breach the terms of a ceasefire deal that ended a conflict in the early 1990s.

    Lavrov said Georgia's breaching of its obligations "should be dealt with first, as we must cure the disease, not its symptoms."

    Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba told RIA Novosti on Friday that Georgia's decision to take the drone dispute to the UN Security Council would in no way help talks on resolving the conflict.

    "With such bias, there is no future for the negotiating process with Georgia. We have already said that there is no perspective here for a political solution," Shamba said.

    He also said the UN's investigation into the drone incident relied too heavily on the video evidence.

    "The results of the investigation were based on the film, but did not look into how the footage appeared just 24 hours after the incident."

    He said the province has been denied a voice in international talks on the issue.

    "Considering that we were not invited at all [to the UN talks], and the issue is being discussed without us, we can say that we are dissatisfied, and could withdraw completely from further cooperation on this issue."

    Following the release of the UN report, Tbilisi demanded that Russia issue an official apology and pay compensation for the downing of the spy plane.

    Abkhazia and Georgia's other breakaway territory, South Ossetia, have been a source of tensions between the former Soviet allies, with Tbilisi accusing Moscow of backing separatism on its sovereign territory. Tensions have also been fueled by Georgia's plans to join NATO.

    Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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