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G7 urges Russia to accept Georgian ceasefire

The world's seven largest economic powers today urged Russia to accept an immediate ceasefire with Georgia.

They also called for it to agree to international mediation over a growing crisis that is verging on all-out war in the former Soviet republic's separatist areas.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues from the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations spoke by phone and pledged their support for a negotiated solution to the conflict which has raged since Friday.

Ms Rice and the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan urged Russia to respect Georgia's borders and expressed deep concern for civilian casualties that have occurred.

They said they understood that Georgia already had signed a cease-fire agreement and "called on Russia to accept an immediate cease-fire".

The ministers gave their backing to mediation efforts led by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, whose country now holds the chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The call came as swarms of Russian jets launched new raids on Georgian territory, and Georgia faced the threat of a second front of fighting as Russia demanded that Georgia disarm troops near another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia.

The Group of Seven, or G-7, often is expanded into what is known as the G-8, a grouping that includes Russia. Notably, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia was not included in the call.

Video: Heavy fire on Georgian border

Video: Georgia calls ceasefire


From Belfast Telegraph