Russia approves Georgia observers, OSCE head says

Other News Materials 19 August 2008 14:55 (UTC +04:00)

Russia on Tuesday gave its approval to the immediate deployment of 20 military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to its conflict zone with Georgia, the OSCE's current chairman said, dpa reported.

After all-night negotiations at the OSCE's headquarters in Vienna, Russia gave its approval to the immediate deployment of the observers at around 0945 local time (0745 GMT), Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, whose country holds the OSCE's rotating presidency, told journalists in Brussels.

Fifty-five of the OSCE's 56 members have now approved the mission. Georgia still has to give it the green light, but Stubb said that he was "carefully optimistic" that Tbilisi would give its approval soon enough to allow the observers to fly to Georgia on Tuesday evening.

Stubb was set to meet with his Georgian counterpart later on Tuesday.

According to the compromise, the observers would be mandated to monitor military activities "adjacent to" Georgia's breakaway territory of South Ossetia, where fighting between Georgian and Russian forces broke out on August 7.

Stubb also said that he wants to send up to 80 more observers to Georgia in the coming days.

OSCE members held crisis talks on the Georgian conflict in Vienna on Monday. Russia initially blocked the immediate deployment of observers, saying that they should not enter Georgia until Russian troops had withdrawn from the country.

On Tuesday, NATO foreign ministers held emergency talks on the Georgian crisis. Stubb, whose homeland is not a NATO member, briefed them on the status of OSCE talks.