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UNSC to meet Saturday over South Ossetia conflict
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The UN Security Council will resume on Saturday morning its consultations over the escalating conflict in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

During an emergency session in the afternoon, the second in the past 24 hours, the 15-member council held both closed door and open consultations to discuss the situation in Georgia, but still failed to agree on the text of a draft statement.

Belgium's UN Ambassador Jan Grauls, the council's president this month, told reporters that some members of the council have asked for more time, and "also because of the changing situation on the ground, it has been suggested that we need more time and that we would meet again."

"This negotiation is an ongoing process ... and will be resumed tomorrow," Grauls said.

He added that the timing of the Saturday's talks has yet to be decided because that will depend on bilateral consultations among the parties which will continue into Friday night.

Earlier in the day, the council, at the request of Russia, held an emergency session that continued into the wee hours of Friday morning, but failed to reach an agreement on a Russia-drafted statement.

The draft expressed "concern at the escalation of violence" and called on "the parties to cease bloodshed without delay and renounce the use of force."

Diplomats said the council failed to adopt the statement because some council members, including the United States, opposed the part calling on the parties to "renounce the use of force".

Russia said earlier in the day that its tanks and troops have entered the region of South Ossetia and are approaching regional capital Tskhinvali. More than 10 of its peacekeepers in South Ossetia have been killed amid a Georgian offensive, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The conflict between Georgia and its rebel region South Ossetia worsened on August 1-2, when South Ossetian authorities accused Georgian forces of shelling Tskhinvali. Six people dead and 15 injured in the shelling.

South Ossetia, along with another breakaway republic Abkhazia, broke away from Georgia in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But their self-proclaimed independence has not been internationally recognized.

The United States pledged to support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, stressing "no state should be taking actions that would violate that."

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2008)

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