Georgia urges UN-led negotiations to end conflict

(dpa) - Georgia said Thursday the six-point plan devised by the European Union to end its conflict with Russia provides the ground for negotiations, which should be conducted by the United Nations.

Ambassador Irakli Alasania said at UN headquarters in New York that some points in the EU plan need to be clarified, particularly the issue of respecting Georgia's territorial integrity.

When the plan was presented to Moscow this week by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, it appeared that Russia would reject the territorial integrity demand while acquiescing to the sovereignty issue.

Alasania said Tbilisi demanded a full and effective ceasefire by Russia, saying that Georgia is already complying to it. He said Russia must end its occupation of Georgian territory, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia must be demilitarized under international guarantees.

"We are looking to have all of these issues discussed under the UN umbrella," he said.

Alasania said UN Security Council members were discussing and improving the language of the current draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Georgia.

But he also said the 15-nation council would not act on the draft until given a go-ahead from the major capitals of the world, or at least not until after US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had finished talks with the French government in Paris on Thursday.

Ban on Thursday raised the spectre of lawlessness and a humanitarian crisis in Georgia by calling on both Russia and Georgia to rein in their armed forces following reports of looting, continued fighting and lack of access to those in need.

Ban said he had become "extremely concerned by the humanitarian impact of the recent conflict on the civilian population in Georgia, which has suffered loss of life and injury, significant damage to property and infrastructure."

"All sides should control forces under their command to ensure that the current state of lawlessness ceases," he said.

Ban on Thursday discussed the situation by telephone with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and with the US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad. The UN did not provide details of the conversations.

Ban said in a statement that large parts of Georgia proper and the breakaway South Ossetia are inaccessible to international relief organizations because of the "ongoing insecurity, lawlessness and other constraints."

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme have airlifted relief supplies to the more than 100,000 Georgians displaced by the fighting.

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