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US, Russian Diplomats Clash at OSCE Meeting
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US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov clashed on Monday over Georgia and Moldova at the OSCE foreign ministers' meeting.

At a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Brussels, Burns called on Russia to complete the withdrawal of its troops from Georgia and Moldova, prompting a sharp rebuttal from Lavrov.

Burns warned that the two ex-Soviet states will remain unstab as long as support for separatist regimes continues from outside.

He called for full support for Georgia and Moldova saying that maintaining forces in another country against its will goes against the spirit of a 21st-century Europe.

In response Lavrov said all OSCE members must refrain from fueling instability in neighboring countries, urging the OSCE not to make one-sided efforts to force through "politicized solutions" to long-lasting disputes in ex-Soviet republics.

He said that this would lead to exacerbation of tensions and mistrust.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, the OSCE chairman-in-office, said "frozen conflicts" could not be definitely resolved in Brussels.

"It would not be reasonable to give the impression that solutions to frozen conflicts, which have taken up most of our time in the presidency, can be found here in Brussels," de Gucht said.

"I call on each of you, starting with the principle protagonists, to use the opportunity of this meeting to relaunch negotiations that have been interrupted," he added.

The two-day meeting focuses on conflicts in South Caucasus and improving efficiency of the OSCE.

The OSCE, a leading international security organization founded in 1973, is concerned particularly with conflict prevention, election observing, crisis management and rehabilitation of post-conflict areas.

(Xinhua News Agency December 5, 2006)

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