Abkhazia: Russia and Georgia “Closer To Agreement”
Below is an article published by Easybourse.com/AFP:
Russia and Georgia took steps towards signing an agreement on measures to ensure security during international talks here Thursday but Moscow stressed some stumbling blocks remained.
"Out of the eight to 10 outstanding questions on the table, only two questions remain" on the so-called "mechanism" to prevent and resolve security incidents, the U.N. special representative to Georgia Johan Verbeke said after two days of talks.
The talks are being held under the joint auspices of the U.N., the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
A first attempt at dialogue in October collapsed in embarrassing failure when Russian and Georgian delegates failed to even sit down in the same room amid disagreements on the presence of representatives from Georgian rebel regions.
In November , all parties agreed to informal sessions which allowed the presence of representatives from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Moscow-backed regions which were at the centre of the Aug. 8-12  conflict, officials said.
U.S. State Department official Daniel Fried also attended the talks and struck a similarly positive note, telling journalists that "the Russians and Georgians were close to an agreement" on the mechanism.
But Russian delegation head and deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin said "two or three" obstacles still needed to be resolved before any agreement could be signed.
"We have moved forward on many issues but ... sometimes you just have two or three more steps you have to take to reach a compromise and you can't take them," he told journalists.
Nevertheless, "we now understand what on any particular issue the Georgian side thinks, we now understand the approach of the Ossetian, Abkhazian side... we've had a kind of living political laboratory in the Geneva discussions," Karasin said.
"For the time being without any doubt this is playing a very useful role," he said.