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Georgia: UN envoy stresses need for talks on Abkhazia's status

Georgia: UN envoy stresses need for talks on Abkhazia's status

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Georgia today stressed the need for talks aimed at determining the future status of Abkhazia within that country.

Speaking to reporters after briefing a private meeting of the Security Council, Dieter Boden said there was a "new awareness that unless we want to risk a further degradation of the conflict, we have to be able to start political negotiations on the status." He added that this imperative had become all the more clear in recent weeks as fighting intensified and a helicopter belonging to the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was shot down, killing all nine people aboard.

"You have to give a clear political sign that we need negotiations on the key political issue, which is the future status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia," Mr. Boden stressed.

Asked about negotiations by interested States - known as the "Group of Friends" - on a draft paper concerning the distribution of competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi, Mr. Boden said "unfortunately, really there is no striking progress."

"I wouldn't be over-pessimistic," he added, noting that while there was as yet no full agreement, "I think there are chances maybe to come to that."

To a question on next steps in the process, the envoy noted that the Group of Friends would continue consultations "and I would hope that in the immediate future we will have all of their support."

"At least that is what I will be working for in my individual contacts with all members of the Group," he said.