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Encouraging signs Georgian and Abkhaz sides want conflict settled peacefully - UN report

2 May 2005 There have been encouraging signals from both the Georgian and Abkhaz sides of their interest in settling their conflict by peaceful means only, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his latest report.

“The willingness of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides to resume, after a prolonged suspension, their participation in the negotiation process is a welcome development, and may usher in a period of renewed possibilities for progress,” he writes in an update to the Security Council on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.

He cautions that the degree to which this potential can be realized will depend upon the parties’ willingness to continue their engagement on practical issues and, ultimately, to address the core political questions that are central to achieving a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict.

“Sustained and coordinated external support will be crucial for progress,” he stresses, noting also the momentum gained from a meeting last month in Geneva of the so-called Group of Friends – France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – which brought both sides together for the first time since suspension of the contacts in July 2004.

On the issue of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) – in place since 1994 after an accord reached in Moscow ended the fighting– the Secretary-General says the freedom of movement of Mission personnel in implementing its mandated tasks must be respected. The Abkhaz authorities must ensure free and unrestricted access by the UN human rights office in Sukhumi to places of detention, in accordance with the mandate of the office, he adds.

UNOMIG consists of 132 uniformed personnel, including 121 military observers and 11 civilian police.

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