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Shevardnadze hails Security Council resolution on Abkhazia

Tbilisi, July 15 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze today hailed a UN Security Council resolution urging Abkhazian separatists to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with central Georgian authorities.

Itar-Tass says Shevardnadze told Georgian national radio today that Friday's UN resolution marks "a new stage in the settlement of the Abkhazian conflict," and "isolates agressive secessionism."

Shevardnadze particularly praised the fact that the UN resolution makes clear that Abkhazia's full independence is not regarded as possible by the international commnunity.

The Georgian government has offered Abkhazia broad autonomy on condition it remains part of Georgia, but the separatists have so far insisted they want full independence.

Itar-Tass reports today that an Abkhazian delegation is in Moscow for consultations with Russian diplomats ahead of a further round of talks with Georgian authorities. Russia is mediating in the talks.

In its resolution, The 15-member security Council also agreed to maintain U.N. military observers in Georgia until next January 31 and called on Abkhazian separatists to allow refugees to return home.

Abkhazian separatists seized the Black Sea region of Abkhazia three years ago. Some 250,000 ethnic Georgians have fled their homes in 13 months of fighting. About 125 U.N. military observers from 23 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Bangladesh, are stationed in Georgia, along with 1,500 Russian troops.