Rice to ask Georgia to sign peace deal


By David Alexander, BREGANCON, France (Reuters) –   U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will ask Georgia’s president on Friday to sign a French-negotiated ceasefire that contains some apparent concessions to Moscow but would lead to the withdrawal of Russian forces, officials said.

The six-point ceasefire accord Rice will take to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili provides for the withdrawal of all Russian forces, leaving behind only the peacekeeping troops who were in place in South Ossetia and Abkhazia before the start of the crisis, a senior U.S. official said. It would give the Russian peacekeepers a new but limited authority to patrol certain areas of Georgia until third-party peacekeepers and observers arrive, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The United States had concerns about the arrangement, the official said, but was willing to accept limited patrolling in the interest of a quick ceasefire that would get the Russian army out of Georgia.
Russian troops and armor moved in or around at least three Georgian towns on Thursday, ignoring Washington’s demands that Moscow respect Georgia’s territorial integrity, a day after Russia and Georgia agreed to the peace plan proposed by Sarkozy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met Rice at his presidential summer residence on the Mediterranean coast and later told reporters “She will be taking a certain number of documents that will make it possible to consolidate the ceasefire.”

 

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