Sarkozy makes fresh bid to repair ties between Russia and Georgia

The French President is preparing a visit to Moscow in a renewed effort to strengthen a peace deal between Russia and Georgia over its breakaway regions.

A source close to the presidency says Nicolas Sarkozy hopes to set a date and place for the launch of international talks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia when he travels to the Russian capital on Monday.

Alongside other EU officials, he will also visit the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The trip is designed to verify whether Moscow has fully adhered to a six-point peace plan draw up by France.

Starting global talks on the stability and security of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were one part of the plan. But Russia has since recognised the regions as independent states.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers have gathered in the southern French city of Avignon for discussions on a civilian mission. Germany’s Foreign Minister said doubts also remain over whether Russia has withdrawn all the troops it moved into Georgian territory.

Underlying the simmering tensions, both Russia and Georgia have a strong military presence in the Black Sea port of Poti, where aid from a US warship is due to begin being offloaded.

Some Western leaders have described the Russian position as a violation of the French-brokered ceasefire.

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