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Secretary Condoleezza Rice w/ Sarkozy On Georgia

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Le Fort de Bregancon, France
August 14, 2008

Secretary Condoleezza Rice: Remarks With French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the Situation in Georgia

SECRETARY RICE: I want to thank you, Mr. President, for inviting me to this very beautiful place and for making room in your schedule on very short notice. I want very much to thank France, as the EU presidency, for the very fruitful mediation that it has undertaken to try and resolve the crisis in Georgia. It is very good that the United States and the European Union, through France, can work so closely together when these crises arise.

I will repeat what I said yesterday, which is it is time for this crisis to be over. The Russian President has said that their military operations have halted. We would hope that he would be true to his word and that those operations will halt. And we will work very hard to see if we can bring an end to this crisis. It is long overdue. Too many innocent people have died and Georgia, whose territorial integrity and independence and sovereignty we fully respect, must be able to get back to normal life.

I’m going to Tbilisi tomorrow, as you know, as the President said, to underscore America’s support for that government. And I just want to thank you again, Mr. President. Thank you.

QUESTION: (In French.)

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: (In French.)

SECRETARY RICE: Merci.

QUESTION: There are widespread reports that the Russians are sabotaging Georgian installations, air fields and other things, as they may or may not be leaving. I’m wondering what your reaction to that is.

Also, today, your colleague – both of your colleagues – Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that the world should forget about Georgia’s territorial integrity and that the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will not be able to be rejoined with Georgia by force. Your response to that?

SECRETARY RICE: I would only make two responses. First of all, the President spoke yesterday to concerns about Russian activities, and we’ve discussed those. Those need to stop. The ceasefire, the provisional ceasefire that was agreed to, really must go into place. And that means that activities, military activities, have to stop.

As to the second comment, since I haven’t seen the comments of my colleague Sergey Lavrov, I don’t want to comment on something that’s out of context. But let me just be very clear that the United States of America stands strongly, and the President of France has just said, for the territorial integrity of Georgia. This is a member-state of the United Nations whose internationally recognized boundaries have to be respected. There will be a process for dealing with what has been a difficult conflict in South Ossetia and in Abkhazia, but it proceeds, of course, from UN Security Council resolutions that are already there. And so there shouldn’t be any question about the territorial integrity of Georgia.

2008/T23-1
Released on August 14, 2008

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