Saakashvili Determined to Integrate S. Ossetia

TBILISI (Civil Georgia/Reuters)–At a news briefing in the southern Georgian resort town of Likani–President Mikhail Saakashvili assured that Georgia will continue its "peaceful efforts to reintegrate South Ossetia and will not allow the conflict to be frozen."

"No shots are fired in the conflict zone and the Georgian villages there are very well protected. This once again proves that our decision to pull back troops was right," Saakashvili said.

The Georgian side pulled out non-peacekeeping troops from the South Ossetian conflict zone on August 20 and replaced its 500 internal troops–which were the part of the joint Russian-Georgian-Ossetian peacekeeping forces–with the elite troops of the Defense Ministry.

South Ossetia’s separatist leadership dismissed the Georgian pullback as a "theatrical gesture by the government and the Georgian president which are trying to maintain a democratic face."

Georgia Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said on August 31 that he is ready to hold talks with separatist leader Eduard Kokoev–but added–"this kind of meeting should be accurately prepared."Only the status of the region will be put on the agenda of the talks," Zhvania stated.


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