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Europe

Lingering Anger Remains as Russia, Georgia Meet for Talks

The relationship between Russia and Georgia has not normalized following a brief war this summer. Negotiators, which include the European Union, hope to get the two sides talking about refugees and security issues.

Graphic with Russia and Georgian flags

The European Union has sent mediators to try and resolve the conflict

The Russian and Georgian delegations have arrived at the United Nations office in Geneva to begin their third round of talks since they went to war in the summer. This round, like previous ones, is expected to focus on refugees, displaced people and security in the region and will last for two days.

Also attending the meetings, which began on Wednesday, Dec. 17, are representatives from the United States, European Union, UN and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Grigol Vashadze, who took over as Georgian foreign minister earlier this month, said his country's delegation would "try its best" during the talks and he was not ready to "doom" the negotiations.

"It is better to speak than not to speak. We are ready for dialogue with Russia," said the minister in a conference call with reporters.

Russia accused of human rights violations

Russian soldiers take cover as a tank convoy enters Tskhinvali, capital of the Georgian breakaway enclave of South Ossetia

Russia and Georgia fought a brief war last summer

Vashadze insisted Moscow respect Georgia's territorial integrity, adding that "20 percent of our territory is occupied by military forces of the Russian Federation" including areas outside the breakaway regions.

The minister accused Russia of "mass and brutal abuses of human rights," including preventing displaced Georgians from returning home, and of violating its obligations under a ceasefire deal reached with the French presidency.

Over the weekend, Tbilisi said Russian forces had retaken a village, outside of South Ossetia, just hours after they had withdrawn. The military action was condemned by the European Union monitors in the region.

Georgia wants complete withdrawal

EU and UN officials at the last round of talks with Georgia and Russia

Getting Russia and Georgia to agree has been impossible thus far

Without a Russian turnabout from its recognition of the breakaway regions' independence and the continued presence of troops in Georgia, Tbilisi would not restore diplomatic ties with its much larger neighbor, Vashadze implied.

Georgia severed the ties after Russia recognized the breakaway regions following the war.

The second round of talks held last month were deemed "constructive" by the participants, which improved on the first meeting a month earlier, when the Russians and Georgians did not sit in the same room.

Russia and Georgia waged a five-day war in August, which began over South Ossetia.

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