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8 Sep, 2008 07:10

French President leads EU peace mission

French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Moscow on Monday to discuss the way forward in the dispute between Russia and Georgia after last month’s military conflict in South Ossetia. Sarkozy travelled to the Russian capit

Last week Medvedev and Sarkozy had a telephone conversation in which the leaders discussed the agenda of the upcoming meeting. During the conversation the presidents also exchanged views on the results of the EU summit, which was held in Brussels on September 1. The Russian side noted the “constructive role of France, which is presiding over the EU, in adopting a generally balanced position.”

Russia then expressed regret that the document adopted at the summit “did not contain principal assessments of Georgia's aggressive actions as the original cause of the crisis around South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”

Sources in the Elysee Palace have said that, at the Moscow meeting, France wanted guarantees from Russia over the withdrawal of the remaining Russian troops in Georgia, under the fifth clause of the Medvedev-Sarkozy peace plan.

“The major goal is to try to set concrete dates, reach agreements, which guarantee the complete withdrawal of Russian forces, which are remaining in Georgia,” French sources said, adding that Russian troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are not under discussion.

Sarkozy said he intended to agree on a date and a venue to launch international discussions to ensure security and stability in Abkhazia and South Ossetia under the sixth clause of the settlement plan.

European observers in South Ossetia

Also up for debate was the possible deployment of an enlarged mission of OSCE civil observers in the conflict area, EU foreign policy Chief Javier Solana told reporters on Saturday.

Currently 20 European observers are staying in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict area. The OSCE is planning to increase sharply their number to about 200 people. Solana noted that new observers could only go to the region with the permission of the Russian authorities.

Georgians pray for future in the wake of war

Hundreds of Georgian orthodox believers came to church at the main avenue of Tbilisi on Sunday to light candles and pray for their future in uncertain times.

Exactly one month after the conflict started, Georgians are still struggling to come to terms with their new reality and the question of the future security of their country.

President Sarkozy and the EU delegation arrived in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Monday night after their visit to Moscow.