Wed, November 11, 2009
World > Europe

Russia, Georgia divided on security, humanitarian issues despite talks

2009-11-11 23:02:06 GMT2009-11-12 07:02:06 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

GENEVA, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia and Georgia concluded here on Wednesday their eighth round of internationally-mediated talks without being able to bridge differences on key security and humanitarian issues left over by their conflict last year.

The one-day meeting failed to reach a so-called agreement on the non-use of force and international security arrangements in the region, and the participants need to discuss further about measures helping the return of refugees, internally displaced persons and other persons of concern, according to EU and UN mediators.

But the parties agreed to resume talks in Geneva on Jan. 28, 2010.

Like the previous seven rounds, Wednesday's talks were under the auspices of the EU, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and they were participated by officials from Russia, Georgia, the United States as well as South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia's two breakaway regions recognized as independence by Russia following their brief war in August 2008.

Reading out a statement following Wednesday's talks, EU special representative Pierre Morel said the parties reviewed the general security situation in the region for the period since the last round of Geneva discussions, which were held on Sept. 17.

Participants discussed basic elements of a framework for an agreement related to the non-use of force and international security arrangements, and they also made some progress toward "a comprehensive set of actions" needed to be taken to help the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, but discussions would have to continue, Morel said.

UN special representative Johan Verbek admitted that Wednesday's talks were difficult because of the sensitivity of the issues being discussed, notably those related to the controversial status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"It was difficult in terms of having to build bridges between different positions that at this time remain apart," Verbek told a news conference.

On the return of ethnic Georgians to South Ossetia, Verbeke said although on the face of it, this could be considered a humanitarian issue, the underlying issues were quite political and they could not make short cuts on such questions.

Wednesday's talks also discussed a number of recent "detentions" of Georgian citizens by Russian border guards and South Ossetian authorities.

In their statement following the talks, the UN and EU mediators expressed concerns about the "detentions," and they urged related parties to address these incidents through the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms, which were agreed in Geneva in February.

The Geneva international talks started in October 2008 in compliance with agreements reached by Russia and the EU. The agreements were reached after the five-day war in August in which Russian soldiers defeated Georgian troops trying to regain control in South Ossetia.

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