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US Calls on Georgia to Refrain from Violence Following Parliament Takeover

The Bush administration is calling on all sides in Georgia to refrain from violence, after opposition supporters took over the parliament building. Georgia's Interior Minister says troops are ready to restore order in the capital on the orders of President Eduard Shevardnadze.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says Washington is monitoring "the troubling and rapidly developing situation in and around Georgia's parliament building."

He urged all parties to refrain from the use of force, and open a dialogue to restore calm and reach a compromise acceptable to all.

President Shevardnadze declared a 30-day state of emergency Saturday, after thousands of protesters demanding his resignation took charge of parliament. In a televised address, he vowed that order will be restored, "and the criminals will be punished."

U.S. troops are in Georgia helping train counter-terrorism forces against Chechen separatists suspected of using Georgia to launch attacks inside Chechnya.

Mr. Boucher's statement did not include earlier criticism of the Shevardnadze government's handling of elections three weeks ago, in which presidential supporters were declared winners in a vote that opposition leaders and foreign observers considered fraudulent.