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Georgia's President Urges US Diplomatic Intervention in Conflict with Russia

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is urging the United States to use its diplomatic clout to help bring about an end to conflict and bloodshed in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, the Georgian leader spoke on U.S. television as his government offered to begin talks with Russia on ending hostilities.

President Saakashvili says he believes the United States could play an important role in quelling an escalating military conflict between his nation and its giant neighbor, Russia.

"The United States and the world community should stop [the] intervention and invasion of my sovereign country," said Mikhail Saakashvili. "I think the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world. I think the U.S. has lots of leverage, and I think there are lots of diplomatic means that it could be done through. This is not about Georgia anymore. This is about basic values of humanity."

Mr. Saakashvili was speaking on CNN's "Late Edition" program.

But the Georgian leader does not appear to be waiting for the United States or the broader international community to act. News reports say Russian officials have received a truce offer from their Georgian counterparts.

Meanwhile, Mr. Saakashvili is striking a conciliatory tone toward Moscow.

"We need to stop [the] hostility," he said. "We do not need further military action. We need to bring back peace. We proclaim [a] cease-fire; we are willing to sign the document on non-use of force and no resumption of hostilities. We are willing to be as flexible as we can on sovereignty issues [for South Ossetia]."

Also appearing on Late Edition was Russian diplomat Alexander Darichiev, who serves in Moscow's Embassy in the United States. Darichiev said President Saakashvili, in his words, "should be held accountable for barbaric and treacherous attacks on innocent civilians in South Ossetia" - where a majority of residents hold Russian passports. The diplomat said Russia has no plans to invade Georgia, and described Russian troops on Georgian territory as "peacekeepers."

Responding to the Russian statement, President Saakashvili said that South Ossetia lies inside his country, and talk of a Georgian invasion in the region is "a contradiction in terms."