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EU Foreign Ministers Discuss International Monitors for Georgia

Lisa Bryant

European Union foreign ministers begin a two day meeting Friday in the southern French city of Avignon that is expected to discuss sending international observers to monitor a cease-fire in Georgia. Lisa Bryant has more for VOA from Paris.

The monitors would be part of Western efforts to get Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia after fighting erupted last month over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.  Georgia and Russia have signed a cease-fire deal brokered by France, but Russia continues to maintain troops in Georgia - calling them peacekeeping forces.

The Reuters news agency reports that the European Union could decide as early as a week from now to send 200 or more personnel to the region. This week Moscow also backed an international police presence by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that also could include the EU.

The foreign ministers meeting comes just days after EU heads of state agreed to postpone special partnership talks with Russia over its stance on Georgia. That includes Moscow's recognizing South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent nations. But - at least for the moment - the 27-member block has ruled out tougher measures like sanctions.

On Monday, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, meets with his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Russia on the Georgia situation. Sarkozy quickly secured Russian and Georgian agreement on the cease-fire deal last month - but critics quickly called in vague.

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