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NATO says Russia Stoking Military, Diplomatic Tensions with Georgia


NATO says Russia is making worse its diplomatic and military tensions with Georgia by announcing a troop buildup in Georgian border regions.

The NATO assertion was made Wednesday in Brussels, at a meeting between alliance ministers and Russia's envoy. A NATO spokesman says ambassadors also voiced unanimous concern about Russian moves to establish legal ties with the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia says it is boosting its military presence in the regions to counter what it says is a nearby Georgian troop buildup. Many people in both breakaway areas want closer ties with Russia.

Earlier Wednesday, a top Georgian official said the Russian moves could be interpreted as an act of full-scale military aggression.

In Washington, a White House spokeswoman urged both sides to maintain dialogue rather than building confrontation.

Late Monday, Georgia's government announced an end to its World Trade Organization membership talks with Russia because of the Russian troop deployment plans. Georgian authorities say they will continue to block Russia's move to join the WTO until the troop deployment plans are scrapped.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, sparking fighting and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers to the areas. Georgia says the peacekeepers side with the separatists. It has pledged to bring both regions back under central government control.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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