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    Nicaragua recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia

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    Nicaragua is taking final steps to officially recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in line with the president's decision, a deputy foreign minister said.

    MEXICO, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - Nicaragua is taking final steps to officially recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in line with the president's decision, a deputy foreign minister said.

    Russia recognized the Georgian breakaway regions as independent countries on August 26, two weeks after it concluded its operation "to force Georgia to peace." The operation came in response to an attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia on August 8.

    Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced on Tuesday during ceremonies for the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Latin American state's army that "Nicaragua recognizes the independence of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia and fully supports the Russian government's position."

    Nicaraguan Deputy Foreign Minister Manuel Coronel Kautz said on Wednesday: "We have started preparing all the necessary documentation for an official recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia following instructions issued by the president."

    The diplomat said the president's decision would soon be approved by parliament.

    Nicaragua would become the first country after Russia to recognize the two republics as independent states. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Tbilisi in the early 1990s after bloody conflicts with Georgia. Russia later granted citizenship to the majority of residents of the two pro-Russian regions.

    Russia has now withdrawn its regular troops from Georgia, but insists it can maintain checkpoints in security zones near the regions under the ceasefire deal brokered by France. Moscow has also accused Tbilisi of building up troops near South Ossetia.

    Western nations have strongly criticized Russia for its "disproportionate" response to Georgia's attack and the recognition of Georgia's breakaway provinces. NATO-Russia cooperation has also been frozen.

    Ortega, who led a Soviet-backed government that battled U.S.-supported Contra rebels in the late 1980s, sharply criticized the West for attempting to surround Russia and investing millions of dollars through NATO to "build a military fence against Russia."

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