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Georgia Signs Cease-Fire Pledge, Russians Continue Onslaught


Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili says he has signed a European-backed cease-fire document aimed at halting fighting between Georgian and Russian forces.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb, were to carry the signed document to Moscow Monday, in a high-profile push to end fighting in Georgia.

Russian warplanes staged new attacks Monday on Georgian targets, and Russian officials claimed that Georgian forces continued to fire on Tskhinvali - the capital of the breakaway province South Ossetia. Russia says it has complete control of the city.

Georgian troops, overwhelmed by Russian firepower, fled South Ossetia Sunday as Georgian authorities announced a cease-fire. In rejecting that truce call, Moscow said Georgian forces were largely ignoring their own pledge.

Fighting escalated in South Ossetia Friday when Georgia moved to regain control of the region from separatists. Russia responded by sending thousands of troops into the region.

Meanwhile, Moscow has issued an ultimatum demanding that 1,500 Georgian troops stationed near Abkhazia - a second pro-Russian breakaway region in Georgia - either disarm or face attack. Georgia has rejected the disarmament call.

A Russian military spokesman, Alexander Novitsky, told the Interfax news agency Sunday that the military was preparing to deploy nine thousand troops to Abkhazia.

Western nations are pressing Russia and Georgia to end the hostilities. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has accused Russia of using excessive force and violating Georgia's territory.

Georgia's foreign minister is expected to meet with NATO officials in Brussels Tuesday.

Georgia says 150 people have been killed. Russia says the death toll is at least 1,500.

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

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