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Belarus Defends Russian Recognition of South Ossetia, Abkhazia


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says Russia had no other choice but to recognize the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Mr. Lukashenko, in a statement Thursday, said Russia had "no other moral choice" except to support what he referred to as the regions' "appeal to recognize their rights to self-determination."

Western countries have widely condemned the Russian action, but Mr. Lukashenko said his country remains a reliable and consistent partner for Russia.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian ambassador in Moscow, Vasily Dolgolev, says Mr. Lukashenko may announce his country's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia today or Friday.

The ambassador told reporters Belarus can not support what he referred to as Georgian "aggression," and said Russia's actions were right.

Mr. Lukashenko's statement today also called for the regional group, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), to come up with a joint position on the conflict. The council is set to meet September 5.

The CSTO includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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

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