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Russian, Georgian Envoys Meet in Geneva

Diplomats from Georgia and Russia are meeting in Geneva for talks on security and refugee issues linked to their military conflict over the Georgian breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Representatives of the European Union and the United States also are attending the United Nations-sponsored talks.

An EU spokesman says the format of the talks is the same as last month, when representatives from the pro-Russian breakaway territories attended informal discussions.

Officials from South Ossetia and Abkhazia also are attending Wednesday's eight-party talks, along with representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Russian forces swept into Georgia August 7, following a Georgian military push to regain control of South Ossetia. Moscow subsequently recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries, despite strong opposition from Western governments.

In a statement today, the U.S. State Department said American officials are not planning to meet with a group of visiting South Ossetian activists. It noted that the group is attending a conference at a university in the Washington area that could include State Department officials among participants. But it said no separate meeting is planned.

The group, led by activist Lira Tskhovrebova, is in Washington seeking to bring attention to human rights issues in the breakaway territories, and what South Ossetian officials describe as pre-war provocations by Georgia that led to the conflict. A meeting last week between the activists and U.S. officials was canceled, after Georgian accusations that Tskhovrebova had direct links to Russian security agents.