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Europe

Germany to Send 40 Observers on EU Mission to Georgia

The German government on Wednesday approved plans to send up to 40 observers to a European monitoring mission in Georgia.

Members of the EU mission to Georgia stand on the tarmac at the airport in the capital.

Russia has 10 days after the start of the EU mission on October 1 to pull its troops

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said on Wednesday the Cabinet decided to deploy a maximum of 20 police observers and 20 civilian experts in the EU mission scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.

Wilhelm says the EU mission will include at least 200 observers from the 27-nation European Union.

The German ambassador in Beirut Hansjoerg Haber has already been appointed to head the mission.

Talks on Georgia in October

Meanwhile, the European Union's top diplomat said high-level international talks on the Georgian-Russian war are set to start in Geneva on October 15.

After a meeting between European Union foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart in New York, EU Foreign-Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the two sides agreed to “a meeting, most probably on October 15, on expert level first."

That decision appears to overturn the September 15 announcement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner - current holder of the EU's rotating presidency at foreign-ministerial level - that the talks would not be held on October 15 because the EU had already scheduled a summit for the same day.

"We arranged (the peace talks) for October 15 ... that was a bit of a slip-up because there will be a (European) council (summit). So it will be a little bit later," Kouchner said after a meeting with EU counterparts.

Location of EU mission still unclear

Members of the EU observer mission dressed in camo getting off of a large military plane with the EU flag on the side of it.

The first members of the EU observer mission have already arrived in Georgia

The peace talks were originally agreed between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Russian and Georgian counterparts during a whirlwind diplomatic tour on September 8.

The accord requires Russia to withdraw all its troops from Georgia -- outside of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Moscow considers to be independent countries -- within 10 days of the deployment of the EU mission on October 1.

Experts say ambiguity over where the EU team might go has been the key weakness in the deal, with some saying the bloc could be accused of consolidating Russia's hold over the regions by not deploying there.

The European Union wants its monitors to be deployed also within Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but Russia is firmly opposed to such a move.

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