Georgia

U.S. wants rapid progress toward negotiations on Abkhazia

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The United States wants to see "rapid progress towards political negotiations" to resolve the conflict over the region of Abkhazia and urges acceptance of the paper on basic principles offered by the United Nations special representative.
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher also said Washington discourages activities "that would appear to enhance the separate status of Abkhazia" and supports extending the mandate of the Commonwealth of Independent States Peacekeeping Force in Abkhazia for another six months.

Following is his statement:

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
February 13, 2003

Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman

COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES PEACEKEEPING FORCE IN ABKHAZIA

The current mandate of the Commonwealth of Independent States Peacekeeping Force in Abkhazia expired at the end of December, 2002. The United States supports extending the Force's mandate for another six-month period.

Like Georgia, the United States wants to see rapid progress towards political negotiations to resolve the conflict over the region of Abkhazia as well as the return of displaced persons. We encourage the parties to the Abkhazia conflict to accept the paper on Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies Between Tbilisi and Sukhumi prepared by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative. We call on the parties to enter into a dialogue to resolve outstanding issues on the basis of the Special Representative's paper.

We fully understand the concern of the Georgian government about recent unilateral actions on Russia's part such as reopening the railway line from Sochi to Sukhumi. The United States believes that no one should engage in activities that would appear to enhance the separate status of Abkhazia and render the negotiating process more difficult.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)