Georgia and South Ossetian separatists have agreed on a truce in the troubled province until Russian-mediated talks are held. It comes following several days of heavy clashes, which left two Georgian peacekeepers dead and wounded three more. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvilli said he does not want an armed confrontation.
South Ossetia rejected Georgian rule in the 1990’s. It has financial and military backing from Moscow, which has been infuriated by Tbilisi’s desire to join NATO. Worsening violence has raised fears of a full-blown war in the area, where the West and Russia are vying for influence over vital energy supply routes.
Russia has warned it will not remain “indifferent” if fighting erupts on its southern border. However Washington has agreed to work alongside Moscow in an attempt to find a solution and stop the fighting.