Merkel arrives in Sochi for talks with Medvedev on Georgia

Other News Materials 15 August 2008 15:39 (UTC +04:00)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev Friday on the conflict in the Caucasus that erupted into open warfare in the separatist Georgian region of South Ossetia last week, dpa reported.

Merkel, who has made clear that Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, is backing a peace initiative put forward by the current French presidency of the European Union.

The conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and a separate breakaway region, Abkhazia, was set to dominate the talks, even though they were planned well before the recent hostilities erupted.

Russia's ambassador to Berlin, Vladimir Kotenev, told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper that Medvedev would present evidence to Merkel of Georgian atrocities.

"Women and children were murdered, churches packed with refugees set alight and entire villages razed," he told the paper.

The Russian president would also warn Merkel about the dangers of too much influence from the EU's Eastern European members on the bloc's policy towards Russia, the ambassador said.

Merkel is to travel to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Sunday to hold talks with President Mikhail Saakashvili in a hastily arranged trip that follows on the heels of a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday.