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Abkhazia seeks renewal of security talks with Georgia


SUKHUM, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - The former Georgian republic of Abkhazia is seeking to restart regular security meetings on issues concerning its Gali District with representatives from Tbilisi, the republic's foreign minister said on Monday.

The practice of regular meetings between Georgia and Abkhazia with the participation of Russian peacekeepers and UN observers stopped in 2006 as relations between the two sides deteriorated.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1866 on February 13 extending the mandate for its UN observer mission in Georgia and the former republic of Abkhazia "for a new period terminating on June 15, 2009." The resolution is aimed at giving more time to Russia and Georgia to resolve security and humanitarian issues as part of the Geneva talks.

"We believe that it is necessary to renew this mechanism taking into account the changes that have occurred," the Abkhazian foreign minister, Sergei Shamba said. "These meetings could include a fifth party with the participation of an EU representative."

The issue of restarting the security meetings is due to be raised at the next round of talks in Geneva on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another former Georgian republic, Shamba said.

Representatives from Georgia, the U.S., Russia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, as well as delegations from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the EU and UN will take part in the talks in Geneva.

The Geneva talks began last October, following a five-day war between Tbilisi and Moscow over South Ossetia, however, the first round ended in failure when Georgia refused to sit at the table with representatives from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia also believed that it was useless to hold the meeting without representatives from the two former Georgian republics.

The second and third rounds in November and December also failed to produce any results either.

The holding of international discussions on regulating the Caucuses region is within the framework of a plan adopted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which they signed after the conflict.

Moscow recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states following the conflict with Georgia, which attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to regain control over the republic. Many people living in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Russian passport holders. Russia's move was condemned by the United States and Europe. Nicaragua has so far been the only other country to follow Russia in recognizing the former Georgian republics.

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