UN renews Georgia peacekeeping mandate for 6 months

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 (Reuters) The UN Security Council renewed the mandate of a peacekeeping force for Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia today, expressing concern about recent clashes in the area.

Relations between Tbilisi and Moscow have soured over Russia's support for Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia.

Tbilisi lost control of the regions in wars in the 1990s, following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

A clash on September 20 in which two former Russian military officers were killed by Georgian security forces has fueled the tension, with Moscow and Tbilisi trading charges of provocation and trying to undermine stability.

The Security Council resolution, approved without debate, expressed serious concern about ''all recent armed incidents that have afflicted the conflict resolution process in Georgia, deploring in particular those in which lives were lost.'' It renewed the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for six months.

Numbering around 150 peacekeepers, the mission was established in August 1993 to verify compliance with a cease-fire agreement between the government of Georgia and the Abkhaz authorities.

REUTERS CS BST0217

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