Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 20:19 UK

US reassures Georgia over Russia

Georgia's foreign minister, David Bakradze (l), meets the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Ms Rice said there should be no question as to Georgia's integrity

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has assured Georgia that the US is firmly committed to supporting the country's sovereignty.

Georgia says Russian moves to forge closer ties with two of its breakaway regions threaten its sovereignty.

The row between the two neighbours will be discussed at a closed-door session of the UN Security Council.

After meeting Georgia's foreign minister, Ms Rice said the US was "very concerned" by Russia's actions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision last week to order closer links between Russia and Georgia's two breakaway regions - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - prompted outrage in Tbilisi.

Aggression claim

"Our commitment to Georgia and to its territorial integrity is firm," Ms Rice said in Washington where she met with her Georgian counterpart, David Bakradze.

"There should be no question as to Georgia's integrity and Georgia's full incorporation into the international community," she added.

Georgia map
Today, in 2008, the annexation of a neighbouring country is unacceptable for the international community
David Bakradze, Georgian foreign minister

The US secretary of state said the dispute between the two neighbours should be "worked out state-to-state".

Georgia is pressing the UN to back its claims of aggression from its powerful neighbour, Russia.

Earlier, Mr Bakradze said Georgia's clash with Russia represented a test for international institutions.

"Today, in 2008, the annexation of a neighbouring country is unacceptable for the international community," he said.

Tensions between the two countries flared after a Georgian spy drone was shot down over the breakaway region of Abkhazia on Sunday.

Spy plane row

Georgia's defence ministry produced a video which appeared to show footage of the unmanned aircraft being hit by a Russian jet, saying this constituted "an act of open aggression".

Georgia's air force commander shows footage that allegedly shows a Russian aircraft shooting down the Georgian plane

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident, blaming Abkhaz rebels, who have also claimed responsibility.

The Russian foreign ministry also said that the presence of the drone violated UN ceasefire agreements.

Russian and UN peacekeepers have been deployed in the two regions since the early 1990s, when violence erupted as they broke free from Georgian control.

Russia has asserted that it is not seeking to inflame the situation but to try and protect the rights and legal interests of Russian citizens who make up the majority of the population in the two regions.

Russia says rebels downed plane
22 Apr 08 |  Europe
Georgia angered by Russian move
16 Apr 08 |  Europe
Country profile: Georgia
18 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Georgia
18 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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