Georgian president says ready to have dialogue with Russia

October 6, 2009 10:37 pm 

TBILISI, Oct. 7 — Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Tuesday his country is ready to hold talks and cooperate with Russia and is unwilling to see a fresh military conflict.

The military attacks Georgia launched last August against Tskhinvali, capital of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, was legitimate, Saakashvili told BBC.

Saakashvili also expressed objections to the EU accusation that Georgia's use of force in South Ossetia was illegal.

An international fact-finding mission, backed by the European Union, released a report last week, which says Georgia started the war with Russia last August as a result of Russian provocation.

The report accuses Georgia of violating international laws by using force against Russian peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia, but also describes Russia's subsequent military campaign deeper into Georgia proper as disproportionate.

South Ossetia, along with another rebel Georgian region of Abkhazia, broke away from Tbilisi's rule during a war in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last summer, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia to retake the renegade region that borders Russia. In response, Moscow sent in troops to drive Georgian forces out of the region.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states two weeks after the conflict ended. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM/ebp

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