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Page last updated at 22:45 GMT, Saturday, 23 August 2008 23:45 UK

Russia urged to quit Georgia port

Russian peacekeepers pass through a crowd of Georgian protesters in Poti on 23 August
Russian peacekeepers passed hundreds of Georgian protesters in Poti

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who brokered the ceasefire in Georgia, has urged Moscow to remove its troops quickly from the west of the country.

Phoning his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, he hailed Friday's pull-back of troops but said they should also leave Poti and Senaki in the west.

Russia's military said earlier they planned to keep Poti, an important port, under their control.

The first US ship carrying aid is due to dock in Georgia shortly.


A senior US State Department official, Matthew Bryza, has said that Russia's actions in Georgia have hastened Georgia's march towards membership of Nato.

"I think what Russia has done now is the strongest catalyst it could have created to get Georgia in Nato," he told a Moscow radio station.

Russia's four-day war with Georgia erupted after Tbilisi tried to retake its province of South Ossetia - which broke away in 1992 and was supported by Moscow - in a surprise offensive on 7 August.

The conflict left hundreds of people dead and created tens of thousands of refugees.

Discussing the details

According to a statement by the French president's office, Mr Sarkozy urged Mr Medvedev to withdraw from Poti and Senaki, site of Georgia's main air base, "as soon as possible".

PEACE PLAN
No more use of force
Stop all military actions for good
Free access to humanitarian aid
Georgian troops return to their places of permanent deployment
Russian troops to return to pre-conflict positions but Russian peacekeepers may take unspecified "additional security measures"
International talks about security in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

According to Mr Medvedev's office, the Russian leader discussed in detail the fifth point of the six-point ceasefire deal, which stipulates that Russian troops should return to their pre-conflict positions but adds that Russian peacekeepers may take unspecified "additional security measures".

Analysts say the terms of the ceasefire brokered by Mr Sarkozy are extremely vague.

Russia earlier insisted its plan to keep its forces in Poti complied with the terms of the ceasefire.

The US, France and UK say Russia's plans to keep nearly 2,600 peacekeepers in buffer zones around South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, go against the terms.

Hundreds of Georgians demonstrated just outside Poti on Saturday against the continued Russian presence.

Georgian forces are reported to be back in control of the main east-west highway and residents are returning to their homes in Gori, the largest town close to the border with South Ossetia.

For the first time in more than two weeks the main road from the capital, Tbilisi, to Gori is packed with traffic, reports the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse.

Minivans are taking passengers back to the towns they left, and carrying provisions to villages where very little has got through the conflict began.

US ships

A US destroyer is due to dock in Georgia on Sunday carrying relief supplies, the US navy says.

It was not immediately clear where the USS McFaul would arrive but some reports say this is likely to be the port of Batumi in the south.

A further two US ships are due to arrive later.

"The USS McFaul is under way now, having taken on humanitarian supplies for the people of Georgia," a naval spokesman said.

The ships are carrying bottled water, blankets, hygiene kits, baby food, milk and nappies, said Commander Scott Miller, spokesman for the US 6th Fleet.

Georgia map


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