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Europe

Sanctions Unlikely to Be on Table at EU Summit, Diplomats Say

Poland, Latvia and Estonia are pushing for EU sanctions against Russia over its crisis with Georgia, but the French EU presidency said the issue will not be decided at the emergency Brussels summit on Monday.

A Russian armored vehicle is seen at a checkpoint near the village of Khurvaleti, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi

Russia halted its offensive in Georgia, but has not withdrawn all troops

At a snap meeting in the Estonian capital Tallinn on Thursday, ahead of the European Union's summit on the crisis in Georgia, the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Poland called for humanitarian aid and international observers to prevent the Caucasus conflict from being reignited on the ground.

"Georgia requires Europe's support in order to recover from the destruction of the war, which in the short term means extensive humanitarian aid for relieving the problems of war refugees as well as those who have lost their homes," the presidents of the two Baltic countries and Poland said in a the joint statement.

As new EU and NATO members, the former eastern bloc nations have been among Georgia's most ardent supporters in the conflict with Russia. They have also long supported Tbilisi's bid to join both Western institutions, a move that has been vehemently opposed by Moscow.

"We cannot silently stand by as post-Cold-War Europe's security architecture is attacked," Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said.

EU divisions over sanctions against Russia

Montage of EU and Russian flags

The EU hasn't been able to speak with one voice when it comes to Russia

The impromptu meeting comes days ahead of the emergency Sept. 1 summit called by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating six month EU presidency to forge a common policy for the 27 nation bloc to deal with the Caucasus crisis.

But a high-ranking official in the Elysee Palace told the Associated Press, "We don't foresee any sanctions decided on by the European Council."

However the official acknowledged that some EU member states, notably the Baltic States and countries in the former Soviet sphere of influence such as Poland, are pushing for sanctions against Russia over its crisis with Georgia. The official said that the EU needs to focus on pressuring Moscow to apply a cease-fire agreement instead.

Other possible measures the bloc could take against Moscow may include the freezing of negotiations on a new cooperation agreement between the EU and Russia and on the introduction of visa-free travel for Russians visiting the 27-member bloc.

Polish leadership divided

Poland's President Lech Kaczynski, left, greets Prime Minister-designate Donald Tusk, right

Poland's Kaczynski, left, and Tusk disagree on relations with Russia

In Tallinn, Polish President Lech Kaczynski had blasted the six-point peace plan that Sarkozy had negotiated with Russia, saying it failed to take into account the principle of respecting Georgian borders.

On Friday, the Polish Press Agency (PAP) had quoted Kaczynski as saying, "We will defend Georgia to the end, to the fall."

The Polish president had declined to provide further details about the meeting and did not say whether he would be present his hard-line stance against Russia at the EU summit on Monday.

The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who will also be attending the Brussels summit, has advocated working closely with Sarkozy and supports the general EU position.

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