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Georgia: President And South Ossetian Separatists Sign Declaration

Vladikavkaz, Russia; 28 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Georgia and its separatist South Ossetian region yesterday signed a declaration calling for restoring peace and respect between them.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the chairman of South Ossetia's supreme council, Ludvig Chibirov signed the declaration after talks yesterday in the city of Vladikavkaz, the capital of Russia's North Ossetian republic.

The RFE/RL correspondent says the declaration also states that special groups will begin working soon to solve the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, and that the two sides have already outlined the political means to do so.

North Ossetian President Akhsarbek Galazov, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and head of the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Georgian mission, Dieter Boden, also took part in today's talks.

Earlier this month, a top Georgian official said South Ossetia could be granted special political status if South Ossetian leaders recognize Georgia's territorial integrity.

Irakly Machavariani, who is Shevardnadze's representative in charge of settling regional conflicts, also said that any special status will depend on South Ossetia's abandoning notions of uniting with the North Ossetian Republic. South Ossetia has tried to secede since Georgia declared independence in 1991.