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G7 countries condemn Russia's actions in Georgia

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[August 28, 2008]  LONDON (AP) -- The Group of Seven industrialized democracies condemned Russia on Wednesday for its actions in Georgia, underlining the country's growing estrangement from the West.

InsuranceThe United States, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Japan and Italy said Russia's decision to recognize the Georgian rebel territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states violated the territorial integrity of its small, Western-leaning neighbor.

"Russia's decision has called into question its commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus," the counties' foreign ministers said in a statement. "We deplore Russia's excessive use of military force in Georgia and its continued occupation of parts of Georgia."

The statement called on Russia to fully implement a cease-fire plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on behalf of the European Union, "in particular to withdraw its forces behind the pre-conflict lines."


Two weeks ago, officials told The Associated Press that the group was weighing whether to effectively disband what is known as the Group of Eight, which is an association of the G-7 nations with Russia.

Russian envoys started attending G-7 meetings in the 1990s, when it was hoped Russia would join the ranks of the world's liberal democratic societies.

Instead, it drifted toward authoritarianism: Russia's major news outlets were brought under state control, governors were stripped of their independence and political reforms effectively gave the Kremlin's opponents no real chance of winning elections.

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The invasion of Georgia has further alienated Moscow from the G-7.

However, Russia's expulsion from the G-8 seems unlikely, at least for now. Even Britain, whose relationship with Russia worsened after the 2006 murder-by-poison of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London, said it did not see the need to disband the G-8.

Speaking in Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that his country would have to review its relations with Russia "in all international institutions," but he rejected "knee-jerk calls for Russia to be expelled from the G-8, or for EU-Russia or NATO-Russia relations to be broken."

"No one should ever be able to say that there isn't a diplomatic process," Miliband said.

[Associated Press; By RAPHAEL G. SATTER]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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