China calls for ceasefire in South Ossetia

Georgia Materials 9 August 2008 17:39 (UTC +04:00)

China on Saturday called for a ceasefire in Georgia's South Ossetia region and expressed "serious concern" over the escalating conflict there, reported dpa.

"China is seriously concerned about the worsening situation and armed conflict in South Ossetia," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"We call on the relevant parties to keep restraint and cease fire immediately," Qin said.

"We sincerely expect the parties concerned to settle the dispute through dialogue and safeguard the regional peace and stability," he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday but state media gave no details of their talks, saying only that Hu also hosted a banquet for Putin.

Hu, Putin and US President George W Bush were among some 80 heads of state who watched Friday's opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted an aide as saying on Thursday that Putin was "satisfied" with Bush's reaction to the fighting in South Ossetia.

"Putin was satisfied with Bush's statement that no one wants a war," the agency quoted Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying.

It was not known if Bush and Putin met in Beijing, while Bush was scheduled to hold his main talks with Hu on Sunday.

The war between Russian and Georgia expanded on Saturday morning, with fighting spilling outside the Caucasus province of Ossetia, and both sides moving reinforcements to the region.

The fiercest fighting was in the South Ossetian city of Tskhinvali, where street fighting and artillery exchanges continued sporadically throughout the night.