Russia, Georgia trade barbs, but talks to resume (Lead)

October 16th, 2008 - 12:09 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Oct 15 (DPA) Russia and Georgia are to resume talks Nov 18 following the suspension in Geneva Wednesday of their first direct parleys since they went to war in August, European Union (EU) Special Representative for Georgia Pierre Morel told journalists.Russia and Georgia accused each other of walking out of the UN-brokered talks.

“De facto the discussion was broken off by Georgia, which refused to participate in the plenary session,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, who headed the Russian delegation to the Geneva talks, as saying.

“The behaviour of the Georgian side, to put it mildly, is unclear, as their refusal of participation has broken further schedule of work for today,” Karasin said.

“The beginning is difficult in this important process, but there is no reason to despair.”

Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russia was to blame for the collapse of Wednesday’s talks.

“Although Georgia was very constructive, although there was an opportunity to hold serious talks with the mediation of the EU and the US, the Russians - as I feared and as I suspected - left the negotiations and walked out,” Saakashvili said.

“This is exactly how the Soviet Union acted in the worst years of the Cold War. This is very regrettable,” he said.

“We will continue working with our friends, with our partners; we will continue our consistent struggle for Georgia’s de-occupation and for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territories.”

The Russian delegation arrived an hour late for the talks with representatives from Georgia, the US, the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The closed meeting also included leaders of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in an effort to find a long-term solution for stability in the region.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for patience, saying diplomats expected no immediate results and that the discussions could drag on for weeks.

Russia and Georgia waged a five-day war when Russia invaded South Ossetia in response to Georgian efforts to impose its rule there.

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