9 Sep 2008

Russia to quit Georgia when EU monitors in place

8:49 am on 9 September 2008

Russia has conditionally agreed to remove its forces from Georgian territory- excluding Abkhazia and South Ossetia - by the second week of October.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the pull-out would happen once 200 EU monitors are deployed to South Ossetia.

After meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Medvedev said the withdrawal was dependent on guarantees that Georgia would not use force again.

But he made no mention of withdrawing troops from South Ossetia or Abkhazia.

And he defended Russia's decision to recognise the independence of both breakaway regions, saying the move was "irrevocable".

However, Mr Medvedev said there would be international talks on the conflict, which would take place in Geneva on 15 October.

Russian troops entered Georgia on 7 August after responding to Georgian attempts to reassert its control in South Ossetia.

The two regions have had de facto independence since a civil war in the early 1990s and Moscow strongly backs their breakaway governments.

In another development: President George Bush says the United States is pulling out of an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with Russia, the so-called 1-2-3 Agreement.

And Russia says it will send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela - its first major manoeuvres near the United States since the Cold War.