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New round of talks on S. Ossetia, Abkhazia to begin in Geneva

GENEVA (RIA Novosti) - A new round of talks on security and stability in and around the former Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is set to begin in Geneva on Tuesday.

The two-day talks are expected to be attended by representatives of the two republics, Georgia, the EU, the OSCE, the UN, Russia and the United States. Both republics were recognized as independent states by Russia on August 26, 2008.

Grigory Karasin, a deputy Russian foreign minister and the head of the Russian delegation at the talks, said he expected a positive outcome from the Geneva meeting.

"We are set for a positive outcome. It is high time for Tbilisi and other world capitals to take a close look at the situation and understand that everyone needs stability and everyone needs to develop onward relations both with Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Karasin earlier told journalists.

Russia recognized the two republics as independent states two weeks after the end of a five-day war with Georgia last August, which began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in a bid to bring it back under central control. Nicaragua has so far been the only other country to recognize the republics.

Shootings and abductions have been reported along the de facto border between Georgia and South Ossetia since after the armed conflict, with both sides blaming each other for continuing violence.

Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia split from Georgia amid bloody post-Soviet conflicts. The majority of residents of both republics have had Russian citizenship for many years.

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