Russian FM holds talks with Swiss on Georgia

GENEVA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Switzerland on Wednesday for talks with his Swiss counterpart that will include the situation in Georgia, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said.

Switzerland has an official role as a go-between between Russia and Georgia after Moscow and Tblisi broke off diplomatic ties last year with the surge in tensions over the rebellious Georgian region of South Ossetia.

Lavrov and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey will “review bilateral relations and also broach Switzerland’s good offices between Moscow and Tblisi,” ministry spokesman Eric Reumann told AFP.

Lavrov, who flew in from a meeting at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, is due to leave Switzerland for Italy on Thursday.

Russia last week vetoed the extension of the United Nations observer mission in Georgia, created in 1993 to oversee a ceasefire between Tbilisi and separatists in Abkhazia.

The OSCE’s mission in South Ossetia expires on June 30 and some OSCE members have accused Russia of impeding talks on its extension with its insistence on recognition for South Ossetia independence.

The Russian foreign minister’s visit also came as US and Russian negotiators were due to wrap up their latest round of disarmament talks in the western Swiss city of Geneva.

However, Reumann said no official engagements were scheduled in Geneva.

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