US, Europeans scramble to prevent Georgia-Russia war

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2008 (AFP) – The United States and European Union are leading a diplomatic push to prevent all-out war between Georgia and Russia, calling for a ceasefire as Russian tanks rolled into a rebel Georgian province.

Envoys from the US, EU and Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were being deployed to Georgia to seek an end to the fighting in Russian-backed South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Western-backed Georgia.

On Friday, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte summoned Russian Charge d’Affaires Alexander Darchiyev to the State Department to press Moscow to cease military operations in Georgia.

“The United States calls for an immediate ceasefire to the armed conflict in Georgia’s region of South Ossetia,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement Friday.

“We call on Russia to cease attacks on Georgia by aircraft and missiles, respect Georgia’s territorial integrity, and withdraw its ground combat forces from Georgian soil,” she said.

The United States was working actively with its European allies to launch international mediation to end the crisis, Rice said, adding that senior US officials have spoken with the parties in the conflict.