Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:52 UK

Georgia OSCE monitor talks stall

Russian troops in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia. Photo: August 2008
Russian troops repelled Georgian forces from the breakaway regions

Europe's security body says talks have broken down with Russia on sending more international monitors to Georgia.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the main sticking point was the area in which its 80 monitors could operate.

The OSCE has 28 observers in Georgia, following last month's fighting between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia.

Russia objects to the OSCE monitors' presence in South Ossetia - which Moscow has recognised as independent.

The Kremlin has also recognised Abkhazia - another Georgian rebel region - as an independent state. So far, Nicaragua is the only other country to have done so.

The conflict in the region began on 7 August when Georgia tried to retake South Ossetia by force after a series of lower-level clashes.

Russia launched a counter-attack and the Georgian troops were ejected from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia several days later.

Trading allegations

"We don't see the point of continuing negotiations in Vienna at this stage," said Antti Turunen of Finland, whose country currently chairs the 56-nation OSCE.

Georgia map

"They have been put on hold. The area of responsibility for monitors is the main sticking point," Mr Turunen added.

Georgia's envoy to the OSCE, Paata Gaprindashvili, accused Russia of refusing to let monitors into South Ossetia.

The envoy described as "absolutely non-constructive" Moscow's position that South Ossetia's authorities should decide the future OSCE mandate because the country was now independent.

Anvar Azimov, Russia's representative in the OSCE, said Moscow was "ready to continue the dialogue".

But he said the additional monitors should be deployed in territory "from which the aggression came", in a reference to Georgia.

Last month, the OSCE agreed to send 100 monitors to the area to oversee a ceasefire agreement between Georgia and Russia.

But talks with Russia on securing their right of access to South Ossetia has so far failed.

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