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At UN, Georgia Claims Russia Spreads Conflict to Abkhazia, Renouncing Force Rejected

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- Georgia accused Russia on Friday of expanding the South Ossetia fight to its other breakaway region, Abkhazia.  During the UN Security Council's second emergency meeting, Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania said he had just gotten a call from his Foreign Minister describing Russian bombing of a Western port and of the Upper Kodori Valley.

  Following the first, midnight meeting at which a three sentence press statement proposed by Russia was rejected by the U.S., France, the UK and others due to its reference to renouncing the use of force, Inner City Press asked Amb. Alasania if all was quiet on the Abkhaz front. "I hope so," he answered.

Georgia's Amb. Alasania, American flag behind, per UN Photo

  Fifteen hours later, that changed. As the Council's public meeting broke up, a revised version of the statement was being negotiated, in which the renunciation of the use of force would be replaced by a call to "refrain" from the use of violence, or from acts of violence. What this will change on the ground is not clear.

Update of 5:35 p.m. -- following Amb. Alasania's question to Churkin, "Will you stop the jets?" a diplomat marveled to Inner City Press that it hearkened back to 1962, when the U.S. demanded of Russia, do you have missiles in Cuba, yes or no? I am not in an American courtroom, the Russian representative replied. Did Alasania take this as his model?

  The diplomat also marveled at what Alasania called the bombing of the port of Poti, "Georgia's main port," and Russia's demand for an apology...

Update of 5:56  p.m. -- Western diplomats say the  rub is how to refer to the cessation of violence and "who started it." Here's comes Khalilzad of the US.

Update of 6:06 p.m. -- Khalilzad pulls out talking points, four of them. The last two are directed at Russia, to stop attacks whether by air or missile or ground forces. Passage of even a press statement is looking less likely.

Update of 6:50 p.m. -- Well placed Council sources tell Inner City Press "the problems are in paragraph 2," which no longer includes a reference to renouncing the use of force; it was the UK which was most adament in opposing that language at the midnight meeting. "They are negotiating this as if it were a resolution, not just a press statement." Both Russia and the U.S. say they need instructions. The UN's bar is full.

Update of 7:02 p.m. -- and many give thanks for that. Because the Council, despite two public meetings and consultations before and after, has not agreed to anything. The president of the Council softly said things will continue tomorrow, and then drifted off down the hall as questions were shouted after him. And so it goes at the UN.

Update of 6:13 p.m. -- in the hallway outside the Security Council men's room, Ambassadors Churkin and Alasania actually talk, face to face, for nearly a minute. Footage exists -- watch this site. Then Churkin re-enters the Council.

Update of 6:27 p.m. -- word is that Russia needs instructions from Moscow. Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Vietnam, last month's Council president, tells Inner City Press that the deterioration overnight in Georgia is at least partly attributable to the Council's failure to adopt the (first) draft press statement. Vietnam had no problem with the call for the renunciation of the use of force. Others thought different.

Watch this site. And this --


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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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