International mediators are struggling to salvage the latest round of talks between Russia and Georgia after a walk-out by the Moscow delegation.
Negotiators from Russia and the Kremlin- backed rebel region of South Ossetia have withdrawn from the Geneva talks after the Abkhaz delegates refused to attend. Grigory Karasin, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister said: “We can’t discuss the questions about the security concerning Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the Abkhazians and South Ossetians.” It is believed the Russian delegation could return to the talks later today if United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issues a delayed report on the UN’s operations in Abkhazia. Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said: “This is part of Russia’s very aggressive foreign policy in order to blackmail the international community that any and all of their positions should be taken on board.” Both the United States and Russia are eager to secure stability in the volatile south Caucasus – an important transit territory for Caspian gas and oil deliveries to the West. It is the fifth session of closed-door talks between Russia and Georgia since their brief but devastating war in August over the breakaway territories. Recently though, tension between Moscow and Tbilisi has been mounting.