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Russia urges Georgia to ink non-violence agreement
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Russia insists that Georgia assume a legal obligation on the non-use of force with respect to its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

"We insist that Georgia take on the legal obligation on the non- use of force. The obligation should be unconditional, not in relation to Russia, but in relation to the neighboring republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," Andrei Nesterenko told a briefing.

Georgia should sign an agreement which provides clear guarantees for the security of the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia so as to avoid a repeat of last summer's tragedy, he said.

The spokesman also pledged Russia's continued economic support for the two republics.

He said Russian troops stationed in the region are ensuring the republics' security and creating the necessary conditions for their development.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Wednesday that Russia plans to increase the number of troops it has deployed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia from around 1,800 to 3,000 by the end of the year.

Tensions in the border area between Georgia and South Ossetia were heightened before the first anniversary of Georgia's brief war with Russia in August last year. Georgia and South Ossetia have been accusing each other of shooting at the other side. But no one was hurt in the shootings.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday warned of using military force to defend South Ossetia "in case of further provocations threatening the republic's population and the Russian military contingent stationed in South Ossetia."

South Ossetia and 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.

(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2009)

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