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UN Security Council to Debate Abkhazia Conflict

United Nations, July 12 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations Security Council today is scheduled to debate the Abkhazia conflict. The Security Council announced this week that the mission of a group of military monitors in Georgia will be extended for six months.

The U.N. group monitors Russian peacekeepers in the region, and the U.N. and Russia have mediated talks on the conflict.

Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze said today's meeting could boost a peace settlement. Shevardnadze has said he is ready to meet with seaparatist Abkhaz leaders. And reports say separatist leader Vladislav Ardzinba has agreed to come to Tbilisi for direct talks with Shevardnadze.

Separatist forces gained control of Abkhazia in 1993, after more than a year of fighting, which saw the flight from the region of an estimated half-million ethnic Georgian refugees.

Tbilisi has offered Sukhumi broad autonomy, but separatist leaders had demanded sovereignty.