Abkhazia and South Ossetia are part of Georgia, Bush says

Georgia Materials 21 August 2008 02:13 (UTC +04:00)

The United States will work with allies to ensure that Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain part of Georgia, US President George W Bush said Wednesday.

"South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Georgia. And the United States will work with our allies to ensure Georgia's independence and territorial integrity," Bush said in a speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars gathering in Orlando, Florida, the dpa reported.

Bush demanded Russia adhere to the August 11 ceasefire, remove its troops from Georgian territory and end the siege against Georgia's democratically elected government.

Russia invaded Georgia nearly two weeks ago after the Georgian military launched a crackdown against South Ossetian separatists. Fighting quickly spread to Abkhazia, which is also seeking independence. Moscow supports the secessionist ambitions of both regions.

NATO on Tuesday suspended contacts with Russia in response to the attack in the former Soviet state seeking admission into the alliance despite the Kremlin's opposition to NATO expansion.

The Russian military has been slow to withdraw from its positions deep inside Georgia and back into the separatist regions, where it has played a peacekeeping role since civil wars in the early 1990s.

"We are beginning to see the early signs of some withdrawal," said Gordon Johndroe, the spokesman for the White House's National Security Council. "It is not significant and ... both the size and pace of the withdrawal needs to increase, and needs to increase sooner rather than later."