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Europe

Germany Offers to Evacuate EU Citizens in Georgia

The German embassy has organized busses to to transport citizens out of Georgia. The German emgassy reports that 200 have already left due to the fighting and another 100 are expected to leave by late Monday, Aug. 11.

An unidentified Georgian woman shows her damaged appartment in the town of Gori

Residential areas have been damaged in the fighting

The bus is headed for the Armenian capital Yerevan, the German foreign ministry said. The German embassy emphasized that the citizens are not being "evacuated" but are leaving the country voluntarily.

Some 300 German citizens are still in Georgia. They are being contacted and offered the chance to leave if they wish, ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner told a news conference Monday.

Ploetner said that the German embassy in Tbilisi was also prepared to help citizens from other European countries.

Germans in Georgia told to contact embassy

"There is no reason for panic but we are calling on all German citizens... to contact the embassy," he said.

Russia has bombed radars near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and has hit residential areas in the Georgian city of Gori near the South Ossetian border. The United Nations refugee agency said that nearly 80 percent of Gori's 50,000 residents have fled due to the bombings.

Merkel urges end to violence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated her call for an end to the violence in a Monday morning phone conversation with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, her spokesman Thomas Steg said.

Merkel also gave her full support to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who plans to travel to Moscow, Steg added. France currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

Merkel said it was "essential that there is an immediate and non-conditional ceasefire and for all armed forces to withdraw to the positions held before the conflict" and that "the territorial integrity of Georgia should be respected," Steg said.

Merkel plans to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday, but said that the meeting will entirely focus on the current conflict.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also spoken several times by phone with his Russian and Georgian counterparts, and also took part in a conference call on Sunday with other EU foreign ministers, Ploetner said.

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