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Georgia refuses to discuss S.Ossetia in Moscow

RIA Novosti

11/07/2008 18:49 MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia has declined Russia's invitation to a meeting in Moscow later this month on easing tensions between Georgia and its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

On Thursday, Georgia recalled its ambassador from Russia after Moscow admitted it had sent aircraft to monitor the situation in South Ossetia earlier this week amid fears of a possible Georgian invasion of the province.

"In view of the recent escalation of the situation in the conflict zone, Russia has proposed holding in Moscow a Joint Control Commission co-chairmen's session in late July to discuss confidence-building measures, as well as the issue of placing a radar in the conflict zone for the use of the three parties involved. Georgia was alone in declining the proposal," Yury Popov, the ministry's ambassador at large, said.

Popov said all sides must be involved for decisions to be made, and that Georgia's current attitude shows it is waiting for the situation to deteriorate further.

"Our Georgian counterparts are preparing in advance for the situation in South Ossetia to reach a crisis point," the diplomat said, commenting on last week's mortar fire from Georgia on South Ossetia.

According to information from Tskhinvali, the capital of the rebel region, the Georgian side opened fire late on July 3 using mortars, grenade launchers and small arms to target the South Ossetian capital and two villages, killing one person and wounding three.

The diplomat said that Georgian peacekeepers had left the zone struck by mortar fire 50 minutes prior to the attack.

South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian republic, Abkhazia, have been the source of rising tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi this year. The provinces broke away from Georgia following armed conflicts in the early 1990s.

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