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Georgia's President: Russia Must Drop Plans to Build Ties With Georgian Separatist Regions


Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has demanded Russia halt all actions aimed at establishing ties with his country's two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Mr. Saakashvili told a Cabinet meeting Thursday his country is ready to consult with Russia about the issue. But he demanded that Moscow cancel all decisions that violate Georgia's sovereignty.

Russia said Wednesday it will establish closer links with the two regions. The Russian Foreign Ministry said President Vladimir Putin instructed officials to "cooperate with the de-facto authorities" in the two areas.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain spoke with President Saakashvili by telephone Thursday. McCain called Russia's move a violation of international law and said it cannot be allowed to believe it has a free hand to undermine Georgian sovereignty. He also called on Georgia to continue acting with restraint.

Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Bakradze said Georgia is seeking an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on the issue.

Mr. Saakashvili said he is sending Bakradze to the United States and ministers to European countries for talks on the matter.

Russia did not suggest Wednesday that it is planning to recognize independence declarations in either area. But the Russian parliament passed a resolution last month recommending the Kremlin recognize their independence if Georgia joins NATO.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence in the early 1990s, prompting war. Russian peacekeepers are now deployed there. Georgia has repeatedly accused the peacekeepers of supporting the separatists and vows to bring both areas back under central government control.

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