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S.Ossetia leader backs internationally mediated peace plan

RIA Novosti

13/08/2008 16:33 VLADIKAVKAZ, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of South Ossetia said Wednesday he supported a French-brokered plan to resolve the conflict that erupted when Georgia attempted to seize control of the breakaway region last Friday.

Georgia and Russia have already agreed to a modified version of the peace plan. French President Nicolas Sarkozy met Tuesday with his Russian and Georgian counterparts, Dmitry Medvedev and Mikheil Saakashvili, in Moscow and Tbilisi, respectively.

"We fully support the plan, although France and Georgia have made some amendments to it," Eduard Kokoity said. "They are still to be discussed, but the main thing for us is to maintain peace in the Caucasus, and to end hostilities in South Ossetia."

Kokoity said South Ossetia was still facing a large problem with refugees.

"I know the feelings of South Ossetian people, who are ready to return home at any moment. A major thing for them is to ensure that no military operations resume and that South Ossetian populated areas are no longer attacked," the separatist leader said.

The Georgian president said he agreed to the French proposal for an immediate ceasefire and the pullback of forces to their positions on August 7.

However, Saakashvili warned that no concessions would be made on "the issue of Georgia's territorial integrity, and the return of refuges."

Medvedev said Georgia's attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, should be taken into account when deciding the future status of both South Ossetia and another rebel province, Abkhazia.

Georgia's Security Council head Alexander Lomaya said Wednesday it would be necessary to "bring refugees out of the combat zone in South Ossetia, to carry out the bodies and to exchange prisoners."

In response to Tbilisi's attack, Moscow sent troops into South Ossetia to support Russian peacekeepers and push Georgia's forces out of its separatist region. The total number of prisoners taken by both sides has not been yet reported.

Russian prosecutors have started questioning Georgian military personnel captured during the recent conflict with Georgia. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the federal investigation committee, said captured Georgian troops were being delivered to Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, for interrogation.

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