Georgia signs ceasefire deal

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has signed the ceasefire agreement delivered to him in person by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to end the week-long conflict with Russia.

After talks in Tbilisi that lasted five hours, Rice made it clear what the terms of the ceasefire meant for Moscow’s military presence in Georgia, and what was needed thereafter.

She said: “All Russian troops and any irregular and paramilitary forces that entered with them must leave immediately…In order to stabilize the situation in Georgia, we need international observers on the scene fast and eventually we need a more robust and impartial international peacekeeping force that will follow those monitors.”

Saakashvili blamed European countries for blocking Georgia’s NATO membership bid and ignoring his warnings that Russia was plotting to destabilise Georgia’s separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“When in April in Bucharest, Georgia was denied the Membership Action Plan by some members of NATO, I warned Western media at that stage that it was asking for trouble. Not only they denied us the Membership Action Plan, but they specifically told the world that they were denying Georgia a Membership Action Plan because of existing territorial conflicts in Georgia, basically inviting the trouble,” said a clearly emotional Saakashvili.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who drafted the ceasefire deal, welcomed Georgia’s signature and said the path is now clear for a UN Security Council resolution to end the crisis.

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