14 Aug 2008

Rice warns Russia it could be isolated internationally

5:19 pm on 14 August 2008

The United States secretary of state has warned Russia it risks isolation if does not observe a ceasefire with Georgia and withdraw its troops.

Condoleezza Rice is to visit France for talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who chairs the European Union, before visiting Georgia on Friday.

Russian forces briefly moved out of the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia on Wednesday to destroy military hardware at an abandoned Georgian military base in the nearby town of Gori.

Thousands of Russian troops remain in South Ossetia since they drove out a Georgian force which tried to regain control of the de facto independent province in a surprise attack one week ago.

Dispatching Ms Rice to Europe, President George W Bush called on Moscow to withdraw its forces from Georgian territory.

"The [US] stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia, insists that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected," he said at the White House on Wednesday.

Ms Rice said Russia faced international "isolation" if it refused to respect the truce.

There was, she said, a "very strong, growing sense that Russia is not behaving like the kind of international partner that it has said that it wants to be".

Ms Rice is to discuss with Mr Sarkozy the five-point peace plan he personally brokered with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on lightning visits to Russia and Georgia on Tuesday.