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Rice Arrives in Tbilisi


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in an effort to seal a cease-fire deal between Georgia and Russia.

Rice is scheduled to meet Friday with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

She met Thursday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and is carrying a draft of the French-brokered cease-fire agreement. Rice says the agreement will ensure that Russian troops leave Georgian territory.

In an interview published Friday in the Russian daily, Kommersant, Mr. Saakashvili says he will not make any concessions to Russia.

The Georgian leader said he is prepared to talk about almost any topic, but warned he would not compromise his country's territorial integrity.

Also Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to appeal for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

U.S. President George Bush on Thursday again demanded that Russia honor the cease-fire in Georgia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that Russia's relationship with the U.S. could be damaged for years if it does not rethink its "aggressive posture" in Georgia.

Gates said the United States had expected to cooperate with Russia in maintaining peace in the region. But he said recent Russian military behavior "calls everything into question."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced concern about the humanitarian situation, and said large parts of Georgia remain inaccessible to relief workers because of ongoing violence and lawlessness.

Canada's defense minister said Thursday his country had pulled out of military exercises with Russia to protest what he called the occupation of Georgia.

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

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