Multi-party talks begin in Geneva over Georgia crisis

Georgia Materials 15 October 2008 15:36 (UTC +04:00)

Leaders from Russia, Georgia, the US, the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are to meet in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Georgia, reported dpa.

The closed meeting is also to include leaders of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in an effort to find a long-term solution for stability in the region.

A five-day war occurred in August when Russia invaded South Ossetia in response to Georgian efforts to impose its rule there.

The precise agenda for the meeting is not yet clear, although Russia is expected to push for an arms embargo on Georgia, which it blames for the conflict.

An OSCE statement said that the two questions of stability and security in the region and the situation of displaced people would be discussed.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Tuesday that he would not negotiate with the leaders of the two breakaway provinces until all Russian troops had left them, thereby downgrading expectations of what the Geneva talks could achieve.

The European Union wants the parties to meet every two weeks, to maintain pressure for a solution.

On Tuesday evening UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began preliminary talks in advance of Wednesday's main event, meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero- Waldner OSCE President Alexander Stubb.