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Georgian And Abkhaz Representatives Meet In Geneva

Georgian And Abkhaz Representatives Meet In Geneva At Un-Initiated Talks

Representatives from Georgia and Abkhazia met in Geneva today in United Nations-initiated talks on international security guarantees in the conflict zone in Abkhazia, where Georgian government and separatist forces fought a war 10 years ago which forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee.

State Minister for Conflict Resolution Goga Khaindrava headed the Georgian side while the Abkhaz side was led by de facto Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba at the session, which comes ahead of the next meeting of the so-called Group of Friends countries seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

International experts and some Group of Friends representatives were involved in today's talks, which were initiated by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Georgia, Heidi Tagliavini, and started with informal consultations.

The UN has maintained an observer mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) since 1994 when an accord reached in Moscow ended the fighting. On 30 January the Security Council extended UNOMIG's mandate for another six months. Stressing the urgent need for progress on refugees and internally displaced persons, a Council resolution called on both sides to show genuine commitment to make returns the focus of special attention.

The Group of Friends of the Secretary-General - France, Germany, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States - are expected to meet by the end of the year.

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