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Russian Ambassador Says It's Too Soon For UN to Respond to Georgian Allegations

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations says the Security Council should not take any action on Georgian allegations that Russia violated its airspace until after officials of the two countries carry out their own investigation. Suzanne Presto has more on the story from VOA's United Nations bureau.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin says Russian and Georgian experts will jointly probe allegations that Russian fighter jets entered more than 75 kilometers into Georgian territory and launched a guided missile on August sixth.

Georgian officials said the missile fell near a village outside the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia, but did not explode.

Moscow denies such charges.

Churkin says a high-level Russian delegation, led by the chief of staff of the Russian Air Force, has been dispatched to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

"Of course, our hope is that in the course of those bilateral contacts, this matter will be clarified," he said. "This is our hope. There are of course all sorts of efforts to, as I said, to create, you know, some stir around this issue, unfortunately, from the Georgian side."

Last week, Georgia's deputy representative to the U.N., Irakli Chikovani, called the alleged missile incident a Russian "act of aggression," aimed at disrupting Georgia's democratic advances.

And Georgia has pressed international bodies, including the Security Council, to investigate alleged multiple violations of Georgian airspace.

The Security Council Thursday discussed the alleged missile incident. Afterward, the Council's Congolese President, Pascal Gayama, said the body will continue to follow up.

Russia's ambassador notes that while the reported incursion has captured the interest of some Security Council members, he hopes that the matter will not require Security Council action.

"Some delegations were proposing an official statement, initially, then a press statement," he added. "But we explained to colleagues that this would be premature for the Council to make any kind of a statement of this sort, simply in view of the ongoing discussions and consultations between the Russian and Georgian experts."

Churkin says it is too early to know what role the Council will play in any investigation. Russia is one of five permanent members of the Security Council.

On Wednesday, Georgian officials said a team of international experts determined that a plane flew into Georgian airspace from the Russian side.

But Churkin dismissed that assertion, saying Georgia is creating confusion by calling on multiple groups to investigate. He says the Russian and Georgian delegations should be given the opportunity to investigate thoroughly.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania on Wednesday to discuss the missile incident.

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