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South Ossetian president threatens to withdraw from talks

RIA Novosti

08/05/2007 12:31 MOSCOW, May 8 (RIA Novosti) - South Ossetia will consider withdrawing from negotiations with Georgia, unless Tbilisi conducts a "civilized dialogue," South Ossetia's president said Tuesday.

"South Ossetia will only recognize civilized dialogue, otherwise we will have to consider pulling out of the negotiating process," the republic's information and press committee quoted Eduard Kokoity as saying.

He also said Tskhinvali could also close the Ossetian section of the Trans-Caucasus highway "to ensure the safety of our citizens, who have to put up with illegal checks and other humiliating procedures on the Georgia-controlled sections of the road."

Georgia has regularly blocked its section of the Trans-Caucasus road in the conflict area since April 11. South Ossetian Interior Ministry Mikhail Mindzayev said Georgian special service officers had been stopping cars and holding unsanctioned checks for South Ossetians. He said confiscating foodstuffs, money and personal possessions "could be considered robbery and attempts to block the conflict area."

The South Ossetian information and press committee quoted the breakaway republic's Interior Ministry as saying that on May 5 Georgia introduced stricter controls at a seven kilometer section of the highway, denying access to those without a Georgian passport.

South Ossetia broke away together with Abkhazia in the 1990s following bloody conflicts, and since Russian peacekeepers have been stationed in the conflict zones.

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