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Georgia, Russia Conclude Talks


Russia and Georgia have wrapped up a round of talks aimed at easing tensions after a five-day war in August over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The United Nations and European Union sponsored Wednesday's eight-party talks in Geneva. Officials from South Ossetia and from the breakaway region of Abkhazia attended the meeting, along with a representative from the United States.

Officials did not say much about today's discussion. But Russia's deputy foreign minister confirmed that the parties are set to hold another round in Geneva next month.

Georgia has said it wants an international peacekeeping presence in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are now patrolled by Russian forces.

Russian forces swept into Georgia August 7, following Georgia's military effort to regain control of South Ossetia. Moscow subsequently recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Wednesday's meetings were held in two working groups, rather than in a formal plenary session. Delegates are meeting as individuals without identifying the side they represent.

Abkhazia's Deputy Foreign Minister Maxim Gvinjia was pessimistic ahead of the meeting. He said he expects results "many, many years" from now.

Georgian and Russian delegates walked out of inaugural talks in Geneva last month. Georgia objected to Russian demands that officials from South Ossetia and the other separatist region, Abkhazia, be seated at the talks.

Meanwhile, exchanges of gunfire are reported outside a Georgian village near the boundary of South Ossetia.

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

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