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Page last updated at 21:17 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 22:17 UK

Russians 'agree Georgia deadline'

Medvedev on Russia-Georgia withdrawal

Russia has conditionally agreed to remove its forces from Georgian land - excluding Abkhazia and South Ossetia - by the second week of October.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the pull-out would happen once 200 EU monitors deployed to South Ossetia.

Speaking after meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Medvedev said the withdrawal was dependent on guarantees that Georgia would not use force again.

But he made no mention of withdrawing troops from South Ossetia or Abkhazia.

And he defended Russia's controversial decision to recognise the independence of both breakaway regions, saying the move was "irrevocable".

Criticism of US

Among the measures announced after the Moscow talks, Mr Medvedev said there would be international talks on the conflict, which would take place in Geneva on 15 October.

And Russia agreed to remove a key checkpoint from near the port of Poti within a week.

NEW PEACE MEASURES
Russia to close checkpoints between Poti and Senaki within a week
Some 200 EU monitors in South Ossetia by 1 October
Russian forces to withdraw from undisputed land within 10 days of monitors deploying
International talks on the conflict to be held in Geneva on 15 October

Again Mr Medvedev made the agreement conditional on Georgia signing a pledge not to use force against Abkhazia.

Afterwards he said the EU delegation had handed him a letter, signed by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, pledging not to use force.

The Russian president confirmed that his troops would pull out "from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia to the line preceding the start of hostilities".

"This withdrawal will be implemented within 10 days after the deployment in these zones of international mechanisms, including not less than 200 observers from the European Union, which must take place not later than 1 October 2008," he said.

But he was uncompromising in his tone towards the Georgian government and the US.

"[Georgia] is trying to reinforce its military capability and some of our partners, especially the United States, are helping them in that."

Mr Medvedev accused the US of rearming Georgia under the guise of delivering humanitarian aid - a charge dismissed by Washington as "ridiculous."

In a mostly symbolic expression of displeasure with Moscow, the US state department said President Bush had pulled a US-Russia civilian nuclear pact from consideration by Congress.

'Fruitful' talks

The Russian and French leaders took part in more than three hours of talks, which also involved the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and the European Commission head, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Mr Sarkozy, who was pressing Russia to meet the terms of a ceasefire agreement he helped broker on 12 August, described the meeting as "fruitful".

President Sarkozy on the agreement with Russia

He said the exact details of the Geneva talks were still under discussion, stressing that the issue of refugees returning to their homes would be at the heart of the meeting.

Russia's call for international talks on the status of the two breakaway regions - part of the 12 August ceasefire deal - proved highly controversial.

President Saakashvili flatly rejected attempts to throw their status into doubt.

Mr Sarkozy has now arrived in Tbilisi, and at a late-night press conference President Saakashvili said that the French-brokered plan was a step forward.

Russian troops entered Georgia on 7 August after responding to Georgian attempts to reassert its control in South Ossetia.

The two regions have had de facto independence since a civil war in the early 1990s, and Moscow has strongly backed their breakaway governments.



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Boston Globe Russia says troops to remain in breakaway regions - 1 hr ago
Lebanon Daily Star Moscow vows to keep troops in breakaway Georgian areas - 4 hrs ago
Itar Tass Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin has informed UN Security Council members of the results of Moscow negotiations between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held on September - 5 hrs ago
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Russia agrees to pull out of key areas of Georgia - 5 hrs ago
Storm Lake Pilot Tribune European monitors to deploy to Georgia - 7 hrs ago



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