Russia to sign S Ossetia, Abkhazia cooperation pacts: Medvedev

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Moscow, Sep 15 (UNI) President Dmitry Medvedev today said Russia will sign cooperation agreements, with a military component, with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, this week.

''This week, I will sign the relevant special agreements to develop friendly ties with these new states within international law,'' Mr Medvedev told a meeting of Russian businessmen.

Moscow recognised Georgia's two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states after Tbilisi's military offensive to retake Ossetia last month.

The West strongly criticised Russia for its ''disproportionate'' response to Georgia's attack, and its recognition of rebel regions.

So far, only Nicaragua has followed suit.

Russia established official diplomatic relations with the two regions on September 9.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s amid bloody conflicts that claimed thousands of lives.

UNI XC RJ RAI2005

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