U.S. President George Bush says Russia must not lay claim to the
breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. VOA White
House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush says all Russia
forces must leave Georgia. Russia says there is no timetable for that
President Bush says the breakaway republics at the center of this military conflict will remain part of Georgia.
major issue is Russia's contention that the regions of South Ossetia
and Abkhazia may not be a part of Georgia's future. But these regions
are a part of Georgia. And the international community has repeatedly
made clear that they will remain so," he said.
Minister Sergei Lavrov this past week said Georgia can forget about
getting back the separatist regions as Russian President Dmitri
Medvedev met with the self-declared leaders of South Ossetia and
President Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch
Saturday that the two regions lay clearly within Georgia's
internationally recognized borders.
"Georgia's borders should
command the same respect as every other nation's. There is no room for
debate on this matter," he said.
Russian General Anatoly
Nogovitsyn Saturday said Russian peacekeepers will never leave South
Ossetia and Abkhazia. Foreign Minister Lavrov said there is no
timetable for the withdrawal of Russian troops in Georgia outside those
territories, and that pull-out remains contingent on security.
Bush said President Medvedev's signing a cease-fire plan Saturday is an
important development and a hopeful step. Mr. Bush said Russia must now
honor that agreement and withdraw its forces from Georgia.
president met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Saturday for a
briefing on her meetings in France and Georgia. Rice said French
President Nicholas Sarkozy told her that President Medvedev vowed to
begin withdrawing troops the minute Georgia signed the cease-fire
agreement. As they have not, Rice said Russians are perhaps already not
honoring their word.
Rice travels to Brussels in the coming week
for a meeting of foreign ministers, NATO allies and European Union
officials to continue what President Bush says is America's efforts to
rally the free world in defense of a free Georgia.