Medvedev orders end to military operation against Georgia

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Moscow, Aug 12 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today ordered an end to military operation against Georgia.

''The security of our peacekeepers and civilians has been restored,'' Mr Medvedev said in a nationally televised statement during a meeting with the Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Armed Forces' Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov.

He noted that the decision to end military operation against Georgia had been taken on the basis of reports by the representatives of the Russian Defence Ministry.

However, Mr Medvedev also ordered the army to 'eliminate the aggressor' in the event of Georgian forces resuming hostilities.

''If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should steps to destroy them,'' he told Mr Serdyukov in the Kremlin.

The President said he would award the military with state medals for the successful operation against Georgia.

Mr Medvedev's statement came as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to arrive in Moscow today to negotiate the EU-brokered truce between the two former Soviet republics over the Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after his talks with his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb that Moscow would not conduct any talks with the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, stressing Saakashivili 'better go.' Mr Lavrov also said Mr Saakashvili must leave office and Georgian troops should stay out of South Ossetia for good.

He said Russia could not agree to any peace plan if it included Georgian troops in a future peacekeeping force because they had attacked Russian colleagues during Tbilisi's push to recapture South Ossetia.

''We can hardly agree with this because it would assume the presence of people described as Georgian peacekeepers,'' he said.

''They can no longer remain. They brought shame upon themselves as peacekeepers. They committed crimes,'' Mr Lavrov added.

He said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted on talks with him that the Russian side not use the terms 'genocide' and 'ethnic cleansing' in relation to Georgia's actions in South Ossetia.

''Dr Rice was insistently trying to convince me that Russia should avoid terms like 'genocide,' 'ethnic purges' and 'war crimes' in its public statements on what Saakashvili is doing in South Ossetia,'' Mr Lavrov said.

On his part, Mr Stubbs said France and Finland so far cannot offer to Georgia legally binding document on non-use of force.

''We have an agreement that we have presented together with French Foreign Minister Benard Kouchner. It may not be legally binding, but it is made on paper and constitutes an obligation not to use force,'' Mr Stubb pointed out.

''I think it is a good first step, but we have no legally binding document so far,'' he noted.

UNI XC PD HT1657

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