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Georgian peace accord must be fully implemented Security Council hears

19 August 2008The full implementation of the principles enshrined in last week’s peace plan that ended fighting in Georgia remains the best way to defuse tensions, find a lasting solution to the conflict and allow humanitarian assistance to those in need, the top United Nations political official told the Security Council today. Briefing Council members at an open meeting, B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the UN was ready to facilitate international discussions to implement the accord and to take part in concrete arrangements to achieve a settlement.He noted that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has emphasized in his consultations with the concerned parties so far that all military acts must cease and that aid officials must have unimpeded access to those in need.“While welcoming the fact that the ceasefire plan has now been signed by both the Russian Federation and Georgia, the Secretary-General stressed the need for it to be implemented and for all forces to immediately withdraw,” Mr. Pascoe said.“With all his interlocutors, the Secretary-General has reiterated the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.”The European Union-sponsored agreement reached last week sets out six principles to end the military hostilities, including: a commitment by all parties to renounce the use of force; the immediate and definitive cessation of hostilities; free access to humanitarian aid; the withdrawal of Georgian forces to their places of permanent deployment; and the convening of international discussions on lasting security arrangements for Abkhazia (Georgia) and South Ossetia (Georgia).The other principle stipulates the withdrawal of Russian forces to their lines of deployment before 7 August, and includes the additional provision that Russian peacekeeping forces may implement additional security measures pending the definition of an international mechanism.Heavy fighting began earlier this month in South Ossetia between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, with Russian forces becoming involved there and in the separate region of Abkhazia and other parts of Georgia in the following days.Mr. Pascoe noted that the Georgian Government and the South Ossetian de facto authorities dispute the number of dead and other casualties, but UN agencies believe almost 160,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres today began a four-day visit to Georgia and Russia to assess humanitarian operations and meet some of the people displaced by the deadly violence.In a separate briefing, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet reported to Council members on the situation in Abkhazia, where a UN observer mission known as UNOMIG is tasked with monitoring compliance with a 1994 ceasefire accord.Later, the Council also heard statements from representatives of Georgia, Russia and other countries about the conflict in Georgia.

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