Leader of the unrecognized South Ossetia's denied reports Thursday that the separatist region of Georgia hoped to join Russia, news agency Interfax reported.
"Obviously, I was misunderstood," Edouard Kokoity said less than an hour after he was quoted by news agencies as saying "without doubt, we will become part of Russia", reported dpa.
But, speaking later, Kokoity said: "We are not going to refuse the independence which has come to us through enormous sacrifice, and South Ossetia is not going to become part of Russia."
Earlier Thursday Kokoity reiterated his longstanding position that after Russia's recognition of South Ossetia's independence the main goal would be reunification with the ethnically Russian republic of North Ossetia.
Moscow announced this week it would base nearly 4,000 troops in the province indefinitely after winning a war with Georgia over the territory in mid-August.