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Council of Europe Experts Discuss South Ossetia

29 January 2005 -- The Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters yesterday discussed with Georgian officials Tbilisi's plans to restore its authority in the separatist republic of South Ossetia.

The Council of Europe's delegation known as the Venice Commission met with Georgian lawmakers and Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili.

Zurabishvili promised that her country will consult with the Council of Europe at every stage of its attempts to bring South Ossetia back under its control.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili this week proposed that South Ossetia renounce its independence in return for greater political rights under Tbilisi's jurisdiction.

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity has rejected the offer.

Reports from the South Ossetian capital say demonstrators gathered in the central square to protest Saakashvili's plan.

South Ossetia won de facto independence in the early 1990s and has been maintaining close ties with Russia since then.

(Novosti gruziya/Rustavi-2/Regnum)