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 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.”
Associated Press writers in Europe, Turkey and the Middle East contributed to this report
Major international aid commitments to Georgia to help victims of the Russian-Georgian conflict:
_The International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.N.’s World Food Program have been providing aid through long-standing operations in Georgia. In addition:
_ICRC dispatched the first of five new shipments of food and other supplies for 25,000 people.
_World Food Program sent two planeloads of high-energy biscuits.
_U.N. refugee agency has sent two planeloads of supplies and plans a third flight Friday.
_U.S. sent two cargo planes carrying US$2 million (€1.3 million) worth of sleeping bags, cots, medical supplies — including syringes and surgical supplies.
_Turkish Red Crescent has sent tents, blankets, bottled water and food, and a new truck convoy is to leave Thursday. Turkish government to dispatch medical aid.
_ Greece sent a plane to Georgia with 14 tons of medical supplies, tents and blankets. It also contributed €100,000 ($149,000) through the UNHCR for refugees who fled across the Russian border into North Ossetia.
_Italy is sending two planes with food and equipment. Italy’s Red Cross is to send kitchens to provide 10,000 daily meals, and is contributing about €1 million (US$1.5 million) through the U.N. and Red Cross.
_Bulgaria to send relief supplies; will offer EU the use of Black Sea port of Burgas as aid coordination center.
_EU has released €1 million (US$1.5 million) in fast-track aid.
_Poland and the Roman Catholic charity Caritas sent 4 tons of first aid
_Czech Republic said it is providing aid worth 5 million koruna (€209,000; US$310,000).
_Slovakia says it is providing 5.6 million Slovak koruna (€185,000; US$276,000).
_Germany said it will give €1 million (US$1.5 million).
_Dutch donated €500,000 (US$745,150) to the international Red Cross.
_Finland pledged €1 million (US$1.5 million) in aid and the Finnish Red Cross has offered a field hospital.
_Denmark gave 3 million kroner (€402,000, US$599,100).
_Estonia sent more than 5.5 tons of humanitarian aid and pledged a field hospital with a medical team.
_Latvia sent a plane carrying medical supplies, including blood plasma.
_Austria said it will send medical supplies, tents, blankets.
The source obtained from:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I’ve just met with my national security team to discuss the crisis in Georgia. I’ve spoken with President Saakashvili of Georgia, and President Sarkozy of France this morning. The United States strongly supports France’s efforts, as President of the European Union, to broker an agreement that will end this conflict. The United States of America stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia. We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.
Russia has stated that changing the government of Georgia is not its goal. The United States and the world expect Russia to honor that commitment. Russia has also stated that it has halted military operations and agreed to a provisional cease-fire. Unfortunately, we’re receiving reports of Russian actions that are inconsistent with these statements. We’re concerned about reports that Russian units have taken up positions on the east side of the city of Gori, which allows them to block the East-West Highway, divide the country, and threaten the capital of Tbilisi.
We’re concerned about reports that Russian forces have entered and taken positions in the port city of Poti, that Russian armored vehicles are blocking access to that port, and that Russia is blowing up Georgian vessels. We’re concerned about reports that Georgian citizens of all ethnic origins are not being protected. All forces, including Russian forces, have an obligation to protect innocent civilians from attack.
With these concerns in mind, I have directed a series of steps to demonstrate our solidarity with the Georgian people and bring about a peaceful resolution to this conflict. I’m sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to France, where she will confer with President Sarkozy. She will then travel to Tbilisi, where she will personally convey America’s unwavering support for Georgia’s democratic government. On this trip she will continue our efforts to rally the free world in the defense of a free Georgia.
I’ve also directed Secretary of Defense Bob Gates to begin a humanitarian mission to the people of Georgia, headed by the United States military. This mission will be vigorous and ongoing. A U.S. C-17 aircraft with humanitarian supplies is on its way. And in the days ahead we will use U.S. aircraft, as well as naval forces, to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies.
We expect Russia to honor its commitment to let in all forms of humanitarian assistance. We expect Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads, and airspace, remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for civilian transit. We expect Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia. And we expect all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country.
As I have made clear, Russia’s ongoing action raise serious questions about its intentions in Georgia and the region. In recent years, Russia has sought to integrate into the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the 21st century. The United States has supported those efforts. Now Russia is putting its aspirations at risk by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with the principles of those institutions. To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe, and other nations, and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis.
Russian Soldiers in Georgian Military base. They are talking how good conditions Georgian soldiers are living in and this is not like Military base of Russians in Russia where “Russian soldiers are living as tramps”. Video was filmed by cell phone of one of the Russian soldier.