Russia hands over control of Georgian buffer zones to EU:Spokesman

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Moscow, Oct 9 (UNI) Russia has handed control of buffer zones adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia over to an EU monitoring mission in Georgia.

''As of October 9 control of the Georgian territories adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia has been completely handed over to the EU monitoring mission in Georgia, on the basis of an EU mandate,'' the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Nesterenko said today.

The withdrawal of Russian troops following a five-day armed conflict between Russia and Georgia was completed yesterday, two days ahead of a deadline agreed by the Russian and French Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy in September.

They agreed in September that Russia's full withdrawal from undisputed parts of Georgia should take place on October 10.

EU monitoring teams were deployed in Georgia on October 1 in preparation for the handover.

Mr Nesterenko said the European monitors in Georgian areas neighbouring on the rebel republics would do everything to prevent possible Georgian aggression against Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

''We hope that UN and OSCE observers will take part in these efforts.

It is crucial that no security vacuum occurs in the region following the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent,'' he said.

Moreover, he added, Moscow hopes that the EU mission will prevent any ''deployment of Georgian military forces and special forces in these regions,'' and any further provocation which could lead to increased tensions.

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