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Cheney talks energy ahead of visit to Georgia

 Cheney talks energy ahead of visit to Georgia
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US Vice-President Dick Cheney is in Georgia today after a brief stopover in neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Speaking after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a new gas pipeline deal in Uzbekistan, Cheney said access to energy resources in Central Asia was a top concern for Washington.

The US also plans to roll out 690 million euros in economic aid for Georgia in the wake of the recent conflict with Russia.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Moscow to abide by the terms of the EU-brokered ceasefire: “It is high time that Russia met its obligations to a ceasefire, to withdraw its forces. If it is going to carry out additional security measures, they need to be in accordance with the Sarkozy understandings, and it is not for Russia to be setting checkpoints along Georgian highways.”

Russia and Georgia meanwhile have closed down diplomatic exchanges, though the parliament in Tbilisi has formally lifted the state of war in most of the country which was declared when hostilities broke out last month.

Moscow, however, says its troops will only be completely withdrawn when the ceasefire is fully implemented.