August 12, 2008 / 10:17 PM / 10 years ago

Georgia agrees to modified Russia peace plan

TBILISI (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili said on Wednesday they had agreed to a modified version of a peace plan with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) talks to his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili during their joint news conference in Tbilisi, August 13, 2008. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a halt to military operations in Georgia on Tuesday in support of the plan proposed by Sarkozy, who flew to Georgia after meeting Medvedev in Moscow.

“It is a political document. It is an agreement of principles ... and I think we have full coincidence of principles,” Saakashvili told a joint news conference with the French president.

Sarkozy said the text would be presented to a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on Wednesday so they could throw their weight behind it. It would then provide the basis for a U.N. Security Council resolution.

The changes made had been approved by Medvedev and included removing a reference to talks on the future status of South Ossetia, the two leaders said.

Sarkozy said the text now provided for the opening of international talks on ways of restoring security and stability in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia instead.

He assured the Georgian president extra Russian security measures mentioned in the agreement would apply only to areas bordering South Ossetia, not broader parts of Georgia.

Sarkozy, whose country holds the six-month presidency of the European Union, said he believed Georgia’s territorial integrity was “guaranteed by the spirit of this text”.

Saakashvili said he hoped the agreement was a prelude to international peacekeepers moving into South Ossetia, replacing Russian forces.

“These are temporary arrangements now, but later it should be replaced by international process,” he said.

Reporting by Francois Murphy and Margarita Antidze; editing by Andrew Dobbie

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