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Russia's Lavrov calls for Caucasus deal on non-use of force

RIA Novosti

23:40 02/10/2009 SUKHUMI, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Georgia must sign a deal with its former republic of Abkhazia on the non-use of force.

"I state firmly that a deal between Georgia and Abkhazia on the non-use of force is necessary because it was not Russia that attacked, but Georgia that attacked Tskhinval [the South Ossetian capital]," Lavrov said during a visit to Abkhazia.

"Documents discovered in the Kodori Gorge after its liberation from Georgian forces during the August crisis confirm that Georgia was preparing an analogous attack on Abkhazia."

Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia, where most people have held Russian citizenship for many years, in August 2008 in an attempt to bring the republic back under central control. Russia recognized both republics as independent two weeks after the end of the ensuing conflict with Georgia.

Lavrov also said that while documents signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French leader Nicholas Sarkozy to end the conflict specified that the European Union would act as a guarantor of the non-use of force, the nature of the Georgia leadership meant a separate deal between Georgia and Abkhazia was necessary.

"In the Medvedev-Sarkozy documents of August 12 and September 8 [2008] there are provisions obliging the EU to become a guarantor of the non-use of force. While we and our Abkhaz and South Ossetian colleagues believe that the EU will fulfill them, knowing the nature of the current Georgian leadership, we will strive for the signing of a deal on non-force between Tbilisi and Sukhumi."

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