U.S. says doubts Russia involved in Georgia strife

TBILISI Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:26am EST

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during a meeting with school teachers in Tbilisi November 12, 2007. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze/Pool

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during a meeting with school teachers in Tbilisi November 12, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Irakli Gedenidze/Pool

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TBILISI (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday cast doubt on Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's claims that Russia was involved in stirring up civil strife in the crisis-torn Caucasus nation.

Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and the top U.S. envoy to the Caucasus, told reporters that he would be very surprised if there had been a real threat from Russia to destabilize Georgia.

Saakashvili has blamed Russia for allegedly manipulating the Georgian opposition to stir unrest against Saakashvili, who has followed a strongly pro-U.S. foreign policy. Moscow has denied involvement and said Saakashvili was seeking to distract attention from his own failings.

(Reporting by James Kilner, writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Sami Aboudi)

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