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Russia-Backed Abkhazia To Boycott Geneva Talks

Sergei Shamba: "We will not take part..."
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Russian-backed rebel region of Abkhazia will not attend international peace talks on Georgia next week, a top Abkhaz official has said, blaming the United Nations for not sending a key document in time.

Russia and ally Nicaragua recognized Abkhazia and another rebel region, South Ossetia, as independent states last year after a war with Georgia, but the rest of the world still considers the provinces part of Georgia.

The latest round of talks between Russia, the separatists and Georgia are set to take place in Geneva on May 18-19. The talks are co-chaired by the United Nations, European Union, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

But Abkhazia's separatist foreign minister, Sergei Shamba, told Reuters that Abkhazia will not take part as it has not yet received a special draft report on Abkhazia from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Shamba said the United Nations had promised the report to Abkhazia by May 15 but was now saying it would not be delivered until after the start of the Geneva talks.

"We will not take part in these talks," Shamba said by telephone, adding that Abkhazia was insisting it not be presented in United Nations documents as part of Georgia.

Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Tbilisi's rule during wars in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow has pledged to deploy military bases in both regions.

Russia's Foreign Ministry was considering its response to the Abkhaz refusal to participate in the next round of talks, the Interfax news agency reported.