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Rice warns of Russia on path to isolation
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US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized on Thursday Russia's military actions against neighboring Georgia, saying Moscow is on path to "self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance."

Addressing the transatlantic German Marshall Fund, Rice said that "the attack on Georgia has crystallized the course that Russia's leaders are now taking, and it has brought us to a critical moment for Russia and the world."

Rice said that following its August 7 invasion of Georgia, "Russia's international standing is worse now than at any time since 1991. And the cost of this self-inflicted isolation has been steep."

"Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) is now in question. And so too is its attempt to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development," said the top US diplomat.

"Our strategic goal now is to make it clear to Russia's leaders that their choices are putting Russia on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance," Rice said.

Rice made the remarks a day after her top aide William Burns said that Washington is considering to take further actions against Russia.

"It is important to reinforce for Russia the consequences of its actions in Georgia as a means of ensuring compliance with its commitments to President (Nicolas) Sarkozy," Under Secretary of State William Burns said.

Georgia launched attacks against South Ossetia on August 7 in an attempt to regain control of the breakaway region bordering Russia.In retaliation, Moscow sent in troops that drove Georgian forces out of the region and took over parts of Georgian territory.

South Ossetia, formerly an autonomous region within Georgia, declared independence from the former Soviet republic in the early1990s. However, its independence has not been internationally recognized.

The White House has been demanding Russia withdraw all its troops from Georgia.

Under the new deal backed by the European Union (EU), 200 EU observers will be deployed in Georgia by October 1, and Russia will withdraw its forces from other areas of Georgia except the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia within 10 days after the EU monitors are in place.

(Xinhua News Agency September 19, 2008)

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