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NATO FMs to discuss Georgia-Russia conflict
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The foreign ministers from 26 NATO countries will meet in the NATO headquarters on Tuesday to discuss the Georgia-Russia conflict.

The emergency meeting, requested by the United States, is expected to show solidarity with Georgia and criticize Moscow for its military operations in the Caucasus country.

A NATO spokeswoman said Monday that the ministers would deliver a clear message of solidarity with Georgia and may approve a package of measures to support the country.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was tough ahead of the meeting.

She said Monday that Russia is playing a dangerous game and warned that NATO would not allow Moscow to succeed in its strategic objectives.

"We have to deny Russian strategic objectives, which are clearly to undermine Georgia's democracy, to use its military capability to damage and in some cases destroy Georgian infrastructure and to try and weaken the Georgian state," she told reporters on board her plane on her way to Brussels.

Georgia initiated the conflict by sending troops into South Ossetia on Aug. 7 in an attempt to regain control of the region which has enjoyed de facto independence from Georgia since 1992. Russian troops moved into the region quickly and drove Georgian forces out of the region.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev later signed a peace deal brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy which would foresee a withdrawal of Russian troops.

Russia has said its military operations in Georgia were aimed at enforcing peace after the invasion of Georgian forces and at protecting civilians and Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. South Ossetian residents have traditional links with Russia and many hold Russian passports.

Tuesday's NATO foreign ministers' meeting is also expected to re-assess the alliance's relations with Russia. Russia and NATO cooperate in theater missile defense, Afghanistan, and the anti-terrorism naval operation in the Mediterranean. The NATO-Russia Council (NRC), which was established in 2002, has been an important forum for dialogues.

But a request by Russia's mission to NATO for a NRC meeting shortly after the beginning of the conflict was turned down by NATO. On Monday, the Russian ambassador, Dmitry Rogozin, was denied a room in the NATO premises to hold a press conference scheduled after the NATO foreign ministers' meeting.

(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2008)

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