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OSCE pushing to send Georgia observers immediately

Georgia Materials 19 August 2008 14:38

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is pushing to send observers to monitor the fragile ceasefire in Georgia immediately despite Russian objections, the current chair of the organization said in Brussels on Tuesday, dpa reported.

"We're looking at a solution where we would be able to send 20 OSCE military monitors today with 80 to follow up in the next few days," Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, whose country currently holds the OSCE's rotating presidency, said ahead of an emergency meeting with NATO foreign ministers.

"We need to open the door to get military monitors in," he said, adding that the OSCE, which groups 56 countries including Russia and Georgia, was the best-placed organization to do so.

Since fighting broke out between Georgian and Russian troops in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia on August 7, the West has called on both sides to stop fighting and for Russia to pull its troops out of Georgian territory.

Georgia and Russia agreed a fragile ceasefire on August 12, but have since accused one another of breaching it.

At an OSCE crisis meeting in Vienna on Monday, Russia refused to allow OSCE observers into Georgia until its own forces had pulled out of the country. However, diplomats said that talks on the issue continued throughout the night.

Stubb said that he was "carefully optimistic" that a deal on the immediate deployment could be reached, adding that there was currently "conflicting information" concerning the situation on the ground that increased the need for international observers.

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