Russia, Georgia Conclude ‘Constructive’ Talks in Geneva, says Official

GENEVA (Xinhua)–Russia and Georgia on Tuesday concluded a “constructive” round of talks in Geneva, in which participants discussed both security and humanitarian issues, a European official said.

The discussions were held “in constructive spirit,” Pierre Morel, the EU special representative for the Georgian issue, told a news conference following the talks.

Morel said all related parties attended Tuesday’s talks, despite initial problems on Monday, when the Russian delegation walked out of the meeting room which led to the suspension of the discussions.

“I believe the process is on the right track. The process is in full swing,” he said, adding that the parties agreed to meet in Geneva again on July 1.

This was the fifth round of internationally mediated talks aimed at resolving security and humanitarian issues left over by the Russia-Georgia conflict last August.

The talks were co-chaired by officials from the European Union, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Participants included Russia, Georgia, the United States as well as Georgia’s two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The new round of talks were originally planned to last two days, but the Russian delegation walked out of the meeting as soon as it started in the UN European headquarters on Monday, citing the absence of representatives from Abkhazia. Delegates from South Ossetia also walked out of the meeting room.

Abkhazia had threatened to boycott the latest round of discussions in protest against UN documents that described the region as part of Georgia, according to media reports.

Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were recognized as independent states by Russia following the five-day war in August, which was initiated by Georgian forces trying to regain control of South Ossetia but finally defeated by quickly deployed Russian troops.

According to Morel, participants at Tuesday’s talks met in two parallel working groups, dealing with security and humanitarian issues respectively.

All participants reiterated their commitment to implement the joint mechanism for prevention and settlement of security incidents, as agreed at the previous round of discussions on Feb. 19, he said.

The participants “discussed a wide range of security and stability related questions, in particular the non-use of force and the modalities for the international security regime,” he added.

Humanitarian issues were also discussed, notably facilitating the returns of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the restoration of water and gas supplies.

Moreal also called on parties to remain fully committed to the Geneva process, as it is the only way to make it as productive as possible.

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