Russia starts pullout of its troops from Georgia

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Moscow, Oct 8 (UNI) Russia today started pulling out its troops from Georgian buffer zones bordering the breakaway region of South Ossetia in accordiance with the peace plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

''The withdrawal of peacekeepers from six checkpoints located in the southern border of the buffer zone has started,'' Col Igor Konashenkov, an aide to Russia's Ground Forces commander, told mediapersons today.

Russian troops have been stationed in Georgian territories since the end of a five-day conflict which Georgia triggered after Tbilisi launched an attack on South Ossetia to try and regain control over the region in August.

Russian forces were seen dismantling and leaving one checkpoint in the area, Russian media reports said.

Under an EU-brokered peace deal, Russia agreed to pull its peacekeepers out of the undisputed parts of Georgia by October 10.

President Dmitry Medvedev said the pullout would be completed by midnight tonight. Moscow has kept troops in the region since ousting Georgia's army in August.

Speaking at an international security conference in France today, Mr Medvedev also said Russia wanted some 200 European Union observers in the area to ''act as guarantors'' to prevent any further hostilities.

Moscow plans to keep nearly 8,000 troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it has recognised as independent states.

UNI XC PD RK1815

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