Google News 30/9/2006
US, UK object to Russia's UN proposal on Georgia
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The United States and Britain have objected to Russia's draft U.N. Security Council statement that would rebuke Georgia's "provocative" actions and its stationing of troops in the breakaway Abkhazia province.
Georgian police and guards on Wednesday surrounded the regional headquarters of Russian troops in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, and arrested four Russian army intelligence officers on allegations of spying. In turn, Russia began pulling diplomats, military staff and their families from Georgia.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, had circulated a draft statement at an emergency session he called on Thursday in hopes of approval on Friday.
But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters that "we have a number of difficulties with the draft as it's currently written." British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said he had made suggestions in an "attempt to put forward a balanced text."
But a Russian diplomat said proposed U.S. changes were unacceptable to Moscow and changed the draft substantially.
The council will continue discussions later, possibly over the weekend, diplomats said.
The Russian statement would express "grave concern" over recent "provocative actions" by Georgia, "leading to a further aggravation of the situation."
It also stresses the need to peacefully settle the dispute over Abkhazia, which has been the source of strife between the two countries since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Abkhazia won effective independence from Georgia in a 1992-93 war, and Moscow props up the province by paying pensions, issuing Russian passports as well as stationing peacekeepers there along with United Nations observers.
Georgia accuses Russia of backing Abkhaz separatists, which Moscow denies.
Churkin's statement would also urge Georgia to withdraw troops from the Kodori Valley in Abkhazia, in violation of Security Council resolutions, and reconsider plans to declare a new republic there.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday went to the Kodori Gorge section of Abkhazia, which is under government control, for a ceremony to rename the area Upper Abkhazia in an effort to assert control.
Georgia's relations with Russia deteriorated dramatically since Saakashvili came to power in the 2003 and launched a drive to join NATO, which irked Moscow.