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12 Aug, 2008 06:45

U.S. presidential hopefuls react to Caucasus crisis

The conflict in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia has prompted the U.S. Presidential candidates to respond. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have had their say on the crisis in a bid to persuade voters of the strength of their foreign policy.

The presumptive Republican nominee took the more aggressive stance, with McCain taking a hard line when it came to Russia.

“Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory,” he said. “What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces.”

McCain's statement, largely blaming Russia for the situation, did not come as a surprise. The former prisoner of war has previously criticised Russia and even called for its expulsion from the G8.

Campaigning in Iowa, McCain called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to resolve the crisis.

“The U.S. should immediately work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen” he said.

Both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have been trying to boost their foreign policy credentials.

Obama offered what many people called a more balanced approach.

“I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint and to stop this armed conflict,” he said. “I think it is very important for the United States to work with the UN Security Council and others in the international community to make sure that we are beginning to bring this conflict to a close.”

Less then a week from now, both candidates will make their first joint appearance in California. But the battle over who has performed best has already begun. A McCain aid called Obama “bizarrely in sync with Moscow”.

Obama's campaign suggests McCain had a conflict of interest, as his foreign policy advisor has lobbied for Georgia.

Experts say both Obama and McCain have overlooked the complexity of the situation.