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Acting Georgian President Makes International Debut at OSCE Meeting

Georgia's acting president made her international debut at a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the Dutch city of Maastricht. While she criticized Russia, she also expressed hope for improved relations between the two countries.

Russia's foreign minister looked on as Georgia's acting president, Nino Burjanadze, told the OSCE delegates that Russia undermined her nation's sovereignty by meeting with separatist leaders from the country's provinces.

But she said Georgia's new leadership, which came into power last week after a peaceful revolution ousted long-time leader Eduard Shevardnadze, is ready to overcome past problems with Russia.

The acting president also said her country's peaceful transition of power proved that it deserves to be part of a new, wider democratic Europe.

She was speaking at the opening of a two-day meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht. Some 40 foreign ministers are in the medieval city to debate issues ranging from the political upheaval in Georgia to the global war on terrorism.

Earlier in the day, Dutch Foreign Minister and soon-to-be NATO leader Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told delegates that human rights and basic freedoms must not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism.

He gave no specifics, but hundreds of protesters gathered in Maastricht on Sunday calling for an end to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and the human rights abuses they say are a result of the war on terror.

There were shouts of, "Powell go home," referring to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is to attend the meeting Tuesday. About 900 police have been sent to Maastricht to help keep order.