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9 Jul, 2008 18:52

Russia and Georgia trade accusations

Moscow and Tbilisi are blaming each other for an increase in tension in Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.The Russian Foreign Ministry says the latest evidence points to Georgian involvement in recent acts of aggression in the re

A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrey Nesterenko said the available evidence shows that Georgia could have had a hand in recent incidents in the conflict zone.

“A planned terror attack has been committed against South Ossetia, which is an internationally recognised side in the conflict. We have more and more evidence that Georgian authorities are intentionally escalating tensions in relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” he said.

He added that Russia is ready to proceed with its peacekeeping efforts.

“But as more provocations take place in the conflict zones we can hardly do business as usual. The most important thing now is to reach firm commitments not to use military force in South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” he said.

On Tuesday, Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling on the sides to agree not to use force. The documents highlight the escalating violence in the region, citing the gun battle between Georgia and South Ossetia last week and the recent explosions in Abkhazia, which killed four. The latest shootout took place in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone on Wednesday, leaving at least two more people injured.

Georgia accuses Russia

Georgia in turn blames Russia, accusing it of jeopardising the peace process in the region. Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili said Georgia wants a real peace process in the region.

“Georgia is extremely interested in seeing the new peace process developed on the ground: a real peace process in which we aim to establish good and meaningful dialogue with our counterparts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. You all know the aspirations of the Georgian side for NATO enlargement and how we look forward to December,” Tkeshelashvili said.

NATO has told Georgia that it may get the green light to join the alliance in December.

“We want to show good progress in the peace process until December. Judging by that, any aggravation of the situation or any obstacles put in the way of the peace process are against Georgia,” the Foreign Minister noted.

Rice visits Georgia

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice continues her diplomatic trip to Georgia.  She said Russia's policy in Abkhazia is not helpful and that the United States supports Georgia's territorial integrity.

On Thursday she's meeting Georgia's president Mikhail Saakashvili to discuss ways of settling the conflict peacefully.

The two sides are also expected to touch on the issue of Georgia's accession to NATO, which Rice described as a major factor in solving disputes with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

On Tuesday Abkhazia rejected a U.S. proposal to deploy international peacekeepers on its territory.