France protests to Russia over diplomat

PARIS (Reuters) – France has complained to Russia after soldiers stopped the French ambassador to Georgia at a roadblock on Thursday, the foreign ministry said.

Spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said Russian troops stopped Ambassador Eric Fournier for three hours at a roadblock outside the city of Gori as he was returning to the capital Tbilisi from a French-run military training site.

“It is unacceptable that our ambassador’s freedom of movement was hindered. We have informed the Russians of this,” the ministry said.

Russia has pulled out some of its forces from Georgia after it mounted a military offensive in response to Georgia’s attempt two weeks ago to recapture the rebel, pro-Russian province of South Ossetia. But checkpoints and troops remain in both areas.

The French foreign ministry also said it supported Georgia’s territorial integrity, an issue that had been left out of an early truce Fournier helped broker, but is now at the heart of debate at the United Nations.

It said that Kosovo, a province of Serbia whose self-proclaimed independence was supported by the West but opposed by Russia, should not be seen as an example for the future of Georgia’s rebellious regions.

“As you know, Kosovo is a specific case and we have always underlined that it could not be taken as a precedent,” Desagneaux said.

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