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France Introduces Security Council Resolution on Georgian Crisis

France has introduced a draft resolution at the U.N. Security Council, seeking a solution to the current military crisis between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer reports the council met late Monday afternoon -- its fifth meeting in as many days on the situation.
France circulated a draft resolution at the closed-door meeting. It calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities; a return of Russian and Georgian forces to pre-August sixth positions; and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Georgia. France's deputy U.N. Ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the text also expresses strong support for mediation efforts undertaken by the European Union and OCSE or Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"This is what we are discussing with both Georgia and Russia. We've had a favorable reaction from the Georgian side, and we hope that there will be equally responsive and favorable reaction from the Russian side," he said.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his delegation had not been consulted about the draft as it was being written, and he had only seen a copy briefly. Churkin said he felt the move was premature, particularly as France's president will meet his counterpart in Moscow on Tuesday. "I hope eventually there is an agreement, a resolution, that is going to be worked out together with us, which will be adopted unanimously, if need be, in order to resolve this situation. But I cannot see us, let me tell you, accepting this French draft of the resolution," he said.

The crisis in the Caucasus country has strained relations between the United States and Russia. Diplomats at the closed-door session said the U.S. ambassador again accused Russia of trying to depose Georgia's president. For his part, the Russian ambassador accused the United States of being a party to the conflict. The United States is a staunch ally of Georgia, and on Monday, U.S. President George Bush demanded that Russia end what he called its "dramatic and brutal escalation" of violence in Georgia.

Heavy fighting erupted last week when Russian forces invaded South Ossetia in response to a Georgian military operation against separatists. Russia sent thousands of troops into the region and took over the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.