Russia, Georgia begin first direct talks since August

October 15th, 2008 - 10:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Oct 15 (DPA) Russia and Georgia began the first direct talks since their five-day war in August at a United Nations meeting in Geneva Wednesday to discuss the situation in Georgia.The Russian delegation arrived an hour late for talks with representatives from Georgia, the US, the European Union (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 be drag on for weeks.

A five-day war occurred when Russia invaded South Ossetia in response to Georgian efforts to impose its rule there.

The precise agenda for the meeting is not yet clear, although Russia is expected to push for an arms embargo on Georgia, which it blames for the conflict.

An OSCE statement said that the two questions of stability and security in the region and the situation of displaced people would be discussed.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Tuesday that he would not negotiate with the leaders of the two breakaway provinces until all Russian troops had left them, thereby downgrading expectations of what the Geneva talks could achieve.

The EU wants the parties to meet every two weeks, to maintain pressure for a solution.

On Tuesday evening Ban began preliminary talks in advance of Wednesday`s main event, meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and OSCE President Alexander Stubb.

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