GEORGIA : Georgia to set up coordinating body for S. Ossetia conflict

Georgia’s leadership plans to set up a Coordinating Negotiation Group for the country’s conflict with its breakaway South Ossetia region, a body that will conduct hourly monitoring of the situation in the area, President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Friday.

The group will include State Separatist Conflicts Minister Giorgi Khaindrava, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, and National Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili, Saakashvili said at a National Security Council meeting.

“Despite all the schemes, Georgia has no alternative to peace negotiations,” the president said.

The nation’s leadership will do its best “to force the separatist authorities to start a peace dialogue,” he said.

Bezhuashvili is expected to arrive in Moscow on a working visit on September 28, a source in the Georgian government’s office told Interfax on Sunday.

Bezhuashvili will be accompanied by Khaindrava.

Both officials are to meet with Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov.

The key issue of the talks is ways to settle the conflicts in Georgia and Russia’s role as a mediator, the source said.

Georgia will ask Russia to consider a plan for the internationalization of peacekeeping operations in the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia, Khaindrava told Interfax.

“We hope for a constructive dialog with Russian colleagues on the issue of peacekeeping operations in the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia,” Khaindrava said.

Khaindrava said that “the peacekeeping process in Tskhinvali is in a stalemate, especially regarding South Ossetian refusal to participate in the work of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) on Georgian-Ossetian conflict resolution.”

Khaindrava said that Tbilisi has raised the issue of changing the mandate of the JCC.

“We should consult our main partner, Russia, at this stage to find out whether they are going to fulfill the meditative role they agreed to undertake,” Khaindrava said.

Khaindrava also want the Georgian Parliament to adopt a resolution on the activity of Russian peacekeepers by September 27.

“The resolution contains the Georgian Parliament’s main position; however, it does not address the issue of the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the conflict zone as at this stage,” Khaindrava said.

“We are going to ask Russia to consider a plan for the internationalization of peacekeeping operations, as we believe that the internationalization is vital in the settlement process,” Khaindrava said.

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