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    OSCE extends mandate of Georgia monitors

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    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe extended on Thursday a mandate for its unarmed military observers in Georgia, the OSCE press service said.

    VIENNA, February 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe extended on Thursday a mandate for its unarmed military observers in Georgia, the OSCE press service said.

    The 56-nation organization moved to keep 20 monitors in areas adjacent to the disputed region of South Ossetia until June 30. They were dispatched to the region after a brief war in August between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway republic.

    The move was supported by OSCE members Russia and Georgia. Decisions taken by group have to be agreed unanimously.

    "The Permanent Council decides to extend until 30 June 2009, its decision of 19 August 2008 without prejudice to any further PC decisions on the future OSCE presence," the OSCE said in a statement.

    "The mandate of the OSCE Mission to Georgia ended on 31 December 2008 and is not affected by today's decision," the organization said on its website.

    The OSCE Mission to Georgia has not been extended over objections from Russia, which insists its mandate should be reviewed as it covers South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia.

    Moscow recognized the two regions after the end of last year's five-day war with Georgia, which began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in a bid to bring it back under central control. Both republics have had de facto independence since the early 1990s and many residents have had Russian citizenship for many years.

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