Rice Urges Ceasefire, Diplomatic Solution in Georgia
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2008 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today urged Russia to deliver on its pledge to cease fire in Georgia, as the United States draws up humanitarian aid plans in the wake of recent fighting in the former Soviet republic.
Rice spoke to reporters at the White House after briefing President Bush on diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Georgia, where clashes with Russia broke out last week in the breakaway region of South Ossetia and escalated over ensuing days.
“The Russians need to stop their military operations, as they have apparently said that they will, but those military operations really do now need to stop because calm needs to be restored,” said Rice, emphasizing the need for a cease-fire by both sides.
“There then will be international efforts to facilitate the withdrawal of forces from the zone of conflict,” she said. Rice added
Following troop withdrawal, the focus can then center on resolving what Rice described as “the long-standing frozen conflicts” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two pro-Russian enclaves inside Georgia that bore much of the recent violence.
Rice said the United States will continue to work diplomatically with all involved parties and welcomed efforts by the European Union and France to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
“But the most important thing right now is that these military operations need to stop,” she said.
Meanwhile, the secretary reiterated U.S. support of Georgian territorial integrity, sovereignty and its democratically elected government.
“We are reviewing our options for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Georgia,” she said.