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U.S., Russian Diplomats Clash At OSCE Meeting

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) December 4, 2006 -- A senior U.S. diplomat has called on Russia to complete the withdrawal of its troops from Georgia and Moldova, prompting a sharp rebuttal from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

At a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Brussels, U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said all OSCE members must refrain from fueling instability in neighboring countries.

Foreign Minister Lavrov dismissed the ideas as simplistic.

Lavrov said the OSCE must avoid one-sided efforts to force through what he called "politicized solutions" to long-lasting disputes in former Soviet republics.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, the OSCE chairman in office, said "frozen conflicts" could not be definitively resolved in Brussels.

"It would not be reasonable to give the impression that solutions to frozen conflicts, which have taken up most of our time in the presidency, can be found here in Brussels," de Gucht said. "I call on each of you, starting with the principle protagonists, to use the opportunity of this meeting to relaunch negotiations that have been interrupted."

De Gucht also said building and consolidating democratic institutions and protecting human rights must remain a central task for the OSCE.

(AP, ITAR-TASS, dpa)

Moscow And Tbilisi

Moscow And Tbilisi

Russian military hardware being withdrawn from a Russian base in Batumi, Georgia, in August 2005 (TASS)

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