Russia starts troops pullout from Georgia

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Moscow, Aug 18 (UNI) Russia today started withdrawal of its troops from Georgia, in line with the pledge by President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday.

''Today, according to the peace plan, the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers and reinforcements has begun,'' the deputy chief of the General Staff of Russian armed forces, Col-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said at a daily briefing.

Medvedev promised during a telephone talk with his French counterpart Nikolas Sarkozy yesterday that Russia would abide by the terms of a ceasefire to end 10 days of fighting in Georgia and its breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Russian armorued vehicles have started to pull out of the South Osseatian capital of Tskhinvali toward the Russian Republic of North Ossetia, RIA Nosvosti news agency reported.

''After receiving an order for a withdrawal from South Ossetia, we have started to load military equipment and are preparing to move,'' a senior Russian officer in the South-Ossetia-Georgia conflict zone said.

Moscow, however, has said it has the right to keep some troops as peacekeepers in a buffer zone around South Ossetia.

The peace plan, worked out at a meeting between Medvedev and Sarkozy, on August 12 in Moscow, stipulates six principles for the resolution of the South Ossetian conflict.

These are renouncing the use of force, halting all military action, providing free access to humanitarian aid, the return of Georgian Armed Forces to their bases, the return of Russia's Armed Forces to their positions prior to combat, and the start of international discussions on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and on ways to ensure their security.

UNI XC ARB AS1811

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