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Georgia: OSCE Force In South Ossetia To Diminish

Tbilisi, 30 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior official with peacekeeping forces in Georgia's disputed region of South Ossetia says the force will be reduced soon.

General Roman Kharmosa, deputy head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission, told reporters in Tbilisi today that the peacekeeping force in the Tskhinvalsky region of South Ossetia would be cut.

Kharmosa said the issue would be discussed at a meeting of the joint commission mediating the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. He did not say when the meeting would be held or when cuts would be implemented. Under the auspices of the OSCE, a tripartite force comprised of Russian, Georgian and Ossetian batallions has been keeping the peace in South Ossetia since 1992. Talks on resolving the status of South Ossetia, which declared independence from Georgia in 1990, have been deadlocked.

Kharmosa said representatives of the tripartite force agreed in principle to cut the number of peacekeeping posts at a meeting in Tbilisi earlier this month. He said a decision has already been taken on which peacekeeping posts would be eliminated, but he did not give details. Interfax news agency quotes unnamed sources as saying the number of posts will be cut by almost half.