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Russia pledges to prevent Georgia-S.Ossetia armed conflict

RIA Novosti

11/07/2008 20:22 MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will do everything in its power to prevent a military conflict breaking out between Georgia and its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, the foreign minister said on Friday.

South Ossetia has accused Georgia of planning a military invasion amid increasing violence in the province, while Tbilisi has said Russia's recent reconnaissance flights over the region amount to military aggression.

"We hope that we can prevent a military escalation of events. We will do everything possible to achieve this," Sergei Lavrov told South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity in Moscow.

Russia hopes the Georgian leadership will "take steps that will not force the situation into a dead-end, but will allow us all to calm down, and work calmly together," the Russian diplomat said.

Georgia recalled its ambassador from Russia on Thursday after Moscow admitted to sending aircraft to monitor the situation in South Ossetia earlier this week.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited Georgia on Thursday, called for international mediation to stop violence boiling over in South Ossetia and Georgia's other rebel region, Abkhazia. Russia rejected the proposal, saying Georgia, the rebel regions, and Russia, must continue direct talks.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been sources of rising tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi this year, with Georgia accusing Russia of trying to annex the regions.

The provinces broke away from Georgia following armed conflicts in the early 1990s.

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