Medvedev, Sarkozy agree on six-point peace plan on South Ossetia

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Moscow, Aug 12 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today held talks here with his visiting French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, during which they reached an agreement on a six-point plant to resolve the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

''The first is not to resort to the use of force. The second is to halt all military action. The third is free access to humanitarian aid. The fourth is that Georgian Armed Forces should return to their bases.

''The fifth is that Russian Armed Forces should pull back to their positions prior to combat. The sixth is the beginning of international discussions on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and on ways to ensure their security,'' Medvedev said in a statement at the joint press conference with Sarkozy after the talks in the Kremlin.

Medvedev also said Georgia's August 8 attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, should be taken into account when deciding the future status of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian region.

He was referring the ''precedent'' of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in February, and its subsequent recognition by the United States and the majority of EU countries.

He also said the residents of Georgia's two rebel regions should be consulted on whether they wanted to be part of Georgia.

''They will give an unequivocal answer, an answer that cannot be given by Russia or any other country,'' Medvedev stressed.

He accused Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of lying when he said that Georgia had ceased fire two days ago.

''As to the statement made by the Georgian President that a ceasefire has been in place for two days, this is a lie,'' he said.

Medvedev noted that Russia's offensive against Georgia was the only possible response to Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia.

''If Russia had had another way to react to Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia, we would have done this. There was no other way to respond,'' the Russian President pointed out.

''Bullies differ from normal people in that when they sense blood it's very hard to stop them, and then one is forced to employ surgical methods,'' he added.

On his part, Sarkozy who came here to negotiate the EU-brokered peace deal, said Europe was ready to join peacekeeping operations in South Ossetia.

The French leader is due to take the Russian-French peace plan to Tbilisi later to night.

''The French President intends to travel to Tbilisi from Moscow to bring these principles to the Georgian side,'' Medvedev said.

''If the Georgian side is truly ready to sign them, really does withdraw its troops to their initial positions, and fulfills these principles then the process to normalising the situation in South Ossetia will have begun,'' he underscored.

UNI XC CS MIR BST2356

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