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Russia Signs Treaties With Georgia's Breakaway Regions

Russia has signed friendship and cooperation treaties with Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed the documents and pledged that his country will protect the regions. He also warned that what he called further Georgian aggression would lead to "catastrophe on a regional scale."

Georgian officials criticized the accord as another step in annexing their country's territory.

Earlier, Russia's foreign ministry criticized this week's visit to Georgia by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and an alliance delegation. It said the trip showed that NATO is still driven by what it termed Cold War-style thinking.

In Washington, White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe again called on Russia to respect Georgia's territorial integrity. He urged the Russians to live up to their commitment to pull their forces back to positions held before the outbreak of last month's conflict in Georgia.

Tuesday, De Hoop Scheffer called the road to NATO entry "wide open" for Georgia despite Russian opposition, but said Georgians must first implement needed democratic reforms.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili later outlined to parliament a series of reforms needed to bring his country closer to NATO standards.

Russia sent thousands of troops into Georgia last month after Georgian authorities tried to regain control of South Ossetia by force.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.