September 30, 2008 / 8:48 AM / 11 years ago

EU force cannot enter Georgia buffer zone-Russia

(Recasts, adds new quotes)

KARALETI, Georgia, Sept 30 (Reuters) - European Union ceasefire monitors will for now not operate inside a security zone south of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region but talks on access are continuing, Russia’s military said on Tuesday.

"From tomorrow, representatives of the European Union will begin conducting monitoring up to the southern borders of the security zone," Vitaly Manushko, head of the temporary press centre for the Russian peacekeeping force around South Ossetia, told reporters.

Under a French-brokered ceasefire deal, Russian troops stationed in Georgia since a brief war in August are to pull back from undisputed Georgian territory by Oct. 10, and allow EU monitors to take over duties patrolling the security zone.

Manushko said Russian and EU officials, meeting in the Georgian village of Karaleti on Tuesday, had not finalised a technical and logistical agreement which would have allowed the EU monitors to enter the security zone from Wednesday.

But he said there would be further talks on access for the EU monitors. "Work will continue," Manushko said.

A senior EU official on Monday said the EU contingent of more than 300 civilian monitors and support staff was deployed in Georgia and would be ready to begin their mission in the early hours of Oct. 1.

Georgian police are also expected to move into the security zone after the Russian withdrawal.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was to visit Georgia on Tuesday to mark the start of the monitors’ deployment and meet Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

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