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EU Ministers Call for Georgia-Russia Investigation


European Union foreign ministers meeting Saturday in France called for a European observer mission to be dispatched to Georgia, and for an international inquiry into last month's conflict in Georgia. For VOA, Lisa Bryant has more from Paris.

Wrapping up a two day E.U. foreign ministers meeting in the southern French city of Avignon, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said an international investigation into the clashes between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia was essential.

Mr. Kouchner said it was critical to know exactly what took place in Georgia - including how many people died in the fighting and who started the conflict. Georgia and Russia have been trading accusations over each other's behavior last month, including allegations each side committed ethnic cleansing.

Ministers from the 27-member European Union also agreed that an EU observer mission should be deployed to Georgia as rapidly as possible.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband said it was key that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France - the current E.U. president -- make the case for such an E.U. mission when he holds talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow Monday.

"The international presence obviously involves OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe)," Miliband said. "There's a U.N. question but I would have thought that it's very much in Russia's interest to show that it wants to engage with the European Union.

Mr. Sarkozy will try to assess whether Russia is complying with a peace plan France brokered last month. On Saturday, the European security body OSCE said Russia was allowing its observers to move freely in Georgia.

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