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    Rice says Russia will fail in bid for regime change in Georgia

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    Russia will fail to attain its strategic goal of ousting the government of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.

    WASHINGTON, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will fail to attain its strategic goal of ousting the government of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.

    "Russia's leaders will not accomplish their primary war aim of removing Georgia's government," Rice said, according to excerpts of a speech released by the State Department ahead of the secretary's appearance at a German Marshall Fund event later Thursday.

    "Our strategic goal now is to make it clear to Russia's leaders that their choices are putting Russia on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance," she said.

    Russia drew international criticism over its five-day military campaign against Georgia, which attacked South Ossetia on August 8, and its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states on August 26. Only Nicaragua has recognized the republics since then, although Belarus may follow suit later this month, and Venezuela has voiced support for Russia's recognition of the two republics.

    The secretary of state also criticized Russia for its "worsening pattern of behavior," including the use of natural resources as a political weapon, unilateral withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, threats to target peaceful nations with nuclear weapons, arms sales to countries and groups that threaten global security, and the repression of political dissidents.

    "The picture emerging from this pattern of behavior is that of a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad," she said.

    Rice spoke with sarcasm about the recent flights of Russian a patrol mission by two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers along the South American coast.

    "We are confident that our ties with our neighbors ... will in no way be diminished by a few aging Blackjack bombers visiting one of Latin America's few autocracies," she said.

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