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Russian president orders ceasefire in South Ossetia
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy agreed Tuesday on six principles for ending the hostilities in the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Among the six principles, the first is not to resort to the use of force, the second is to stop all military action, the third is free access to humanitarian aid, and the fourth is Georgian armed forces should return to their bases, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Medvedev as saying.

The Russian military should also pull back to its positions prior to combat, and initiate international discussions on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and on ways to ensure their security.

Dmitry Medvedev announced Tuesday an end to military operations in South Ossetia, the Interfax news agency reported.

At a meeting with the Russian defense minister and th e head of the Russian general staff, the president said, "I have made a decision to stop the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace."

Medvedev said Russia had achieved its aim in the region and the security of Russian peacekeepers and civilians had been restored. "The aggressor was punished and sustained considerable losses."

However, Medvedev was also reported to have ordered the Russian military to "eliminate the aggressor" in case Georgian forces resume hostilities.

The Itar-Tass news agency said Deputy Chief of General Staff Anatoly Nogovitsyn had confirmed the ceasefire order, saying Russia is awaiting Georgia's reaction to the statement by the Russian president.

During a meeting with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy Tuesday, Medvedev put forward two prerequisites for peace in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone.

"We can discuss a final settlement to the situation, which will be possible on condition that Georgian troops pull back to their initial positions, with a partial demilitarization of armed forces and the second, the signing of a legally binding ceasefire agreement," he said.

Sarkozy, whose country now holds the presidency of the European Union (EU), said Russia should use its military strength to ensure peace although its desire to protect compatriots' interests in South Ossetia was understandable.

He hailed Russia's decision to end military operations against Georgia, saying France and the EU would do everything to restore peace in the region.

Georgia began a military action against South Ossetia's forces last week in an attempt to re-establish control over the region. In response, Russian troops moved into the region to fight the Georgian forces.

(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2008)

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