Georgia Seeking US Monitors on Conflict Lines

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia urged the United States on Tuesday to help monitor the boundaries with its two Russian-supported breakaway regions.

National Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili said before a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that Georgia wants U.S. monitors to bolster the work of 246 European Union monitors and support Georgia’s economic development by increasing a sense of security for investors.

The EU monitors are the only remaining international ones in Georgia, but they are blocked from traveling inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia and its separatist allies took full control of the two breakaway regions after a brief war with Georgia a year ago. Russia then blocked the extension of longtime monitoring missions by the U.N. and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In Brussels on Tuesday, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he hopes to get EU backing to extend the bloc’s peace monitoring mission in Georgia for another year. Bildt says he also is open to Georgian requests that the U.S. help monitor Georgia’s boundaries with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Bildt’s country currently holds the EU presidency, and he discussed the issue with EU lawmakers.

EU foreign ministers are expected to endorse a one-year extension to the EU mission next week. The 27-nation bloc sent its 246 monitors to Georgia last August in the days after the Russia-Georgia war.

The EU monitors are the only remaining international monitors in Georgia, but they are blocked from traveling inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Only Russia and Nicaragua recognize the independence of the two regions, and President Barack Obama said during a recent Moscow summit that Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.

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