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Nato freezes ties with Moscow

Nato linked the future of the alliance's relations with Moscow to the pullout of troops from Georgia yesterday and warned that "there can be no business as usual under present circumstances."

Speaking after emergency talks of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels, the secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said: "The future of our relations will depend on the concrete actions Russia will take to honour the words of President (Dmitry) Medvedev to abide by the six-point peace plan, which is not happening at the moment."

Ministers suspended meetings of the Nato-Russia council, a consultative body set up in 2002, as long as Russian troops were in Georgia. Nato was "considering seriously the implications of Russia's actions for the Nato-Russia relationship," said a statement by the 26-member alliance. Nato expressed concern at Moscow's "disproportionate" retaliation after Georgia's offensive on 8 August. Nato called on Russia to withdraw its troops in line with the peace agreement brokered last week by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

In addition to reiterating Nato support for eventual membership for Georgia and Ukraine, the ministers risked angering Moscow by agreeing to strengthen relations with Tbilisi by creating a consultative body to help it prepare to join.

The Nato statement also demanded "full respect for the principles of Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity". Mr de Hoop Scheffer said this referred to the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia which he emphasised were recognised by Moscow as part of Georgia.

A draft plan to end the hostilities was discussed at an emergency consultation by the UN Security Council.

Belfast Telegraph


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