August 13, 2008 / 8:10 PM / 11 years ago

U.N. ready to help with Georgia peacekeeping: Ban

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday he was prepared to contribute to peacekeeping arrangements in Georgia’s two breakaway regions and to help organize peace talks.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon greets delegates as he arrives at conference in Mexico City August 4, 2008. REUTERS/Henry Romero

“The U.N. stands ready to facilitate international discussions as well as to contribute to possible peacekeeping or other arrangements for Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Ban said in a statement.

Ban added he was ready to use his “good offices” to help restore peace and security in the region after a six-day-old war between Russia and Georgia.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia threw off Georgian rule in wars in the early 1990s and declared independence. No state has recognized them, although Russia has given political and financial support.

The crisis erupted last week after Georgian troops entered South Ossetia to restore Tbilisi’s control over the territory, prompting Moscow to attack and send troops into the former Soviet republic.

The United Nations has maintained a small unarmed military observer mission in Abkhazia since 1993 to monitor the truce between Abkhaz separatists and the Tbilisi government.

New U.N. arrangements, including the sending of armed peacekeepers to Georgia, would require approval of the Security Council.

The United Nations has played a minor role since the crisis began on August 7. Diplomats said this was mostly because Russia — like the United States, Britain, France and China — holds a veto on the Security Council as a permanent member.

Despite five emergency sessions, the council was unable to agree on a call for a cease-fire. The meetings were characterized by heated accusations and insults between the Russian and U.S. envoys reminiscent of the Cold War.

DRAFT RESOLUTION

France, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency and is mediating in the crisis, is revising a draft Security Council resolution that would call for international peacekeepers in Georgia to monitor the cease-fire.

It will most likely not include precise details of how many and where they will be positioned, European diplomats said.

“That will probably be worked out later,” one said.

The text, which diplomats said they hoped would be put to a vote before the end of the week, will reflect the 6-point provisional cease-fire agreement between Russia and Georgia brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ban welcomed Georgian and Russian acceptance of Sarkozy’s proposed truce deal, but added that “the resolution of the conflicts in Georgia requires a comprehensive approach through a concerted effort by the international community.”

The U.N. chief also reiterated his support for “a solution based on the full respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia.”

Ban said he was concerned about the humanitarian situation and urged the Georgians and Russians to provide “full and safe access for humanitarian organizations to the regions affected by the conflicts.”

Editing by Mohammad Zargham

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