UN chief urges peaceful settlement to conflict in Georgia

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called on the warring parties in Georgia to immediately end hostilities and seek a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

"The Secretary-General urges all parties to immediately end hostilities and to engage, without delay, in negotiations to achieve a peaceful settlement," Ban's press office said in a statement issued late Saturday.

"The secretary-general is alarmed by the escalation of hostilities in Georgia which have resulted in large numbers of casualties and massive destruction in South Ossetia and other regions of Georgia," the statement said.

In particular, the secretary-general expressed concern about "violence spreading to areas outside the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict," it said.

Ban is "profoundly concerned over mounting tensions in the Abkhaz zone of conflict, including the bombing of the Upper Kodori Valley and the ongoing military build-up along the security zone," it noted.

The secretary-general "welcomes international efforts to assist the parties in resolving the situation" and "strongly believes that a lasting solution can only be found by peaceful means," it added.

South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s and was governed by a secessionist government since then although its independence has not been internationally recognized.

On Friday, Georgian troops began a military action against South Ossetia's forces in an attempt to re-establish control over the region. In response, Russian troops moved into the region to fight the Georgian forces. Its warplanes also bombed the region.

Russia has said the two-day conflict has killed 1,500 people and that the death toll is expected to rise.

[Source: Xinhua, UN, 09Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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