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U.S. Says Putin Visit To Georgia's Abkhazia 'Inappropriate'

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Raul Khajimba, the leader of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, on August 8.

The United States has criticized a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia to show support for separatists, calling it "inappropriate."

Putin's August 8 visit came on the anniversary of the start of a five-day war during which Russian forces drove deep into Georgia.

Following the war, Georgia and Russia broke off diplomatic relations and Moscow recognized Abkhazia and another Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, as independent countries. Only a few countries followed Russia's lead.

Russia maintains thousands of troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in what Georgia considers an occupation.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence offered full U.S. support to Georgia in its standoff with Russia over the regions on a visit to Tbilisi last week.

The U.S. State Department repeated that support on August 9 in the wake of the Putin visit.

"The United States fully supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and rejects Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the department said in a statement.

"The United States urges Russia to withdraw its forces to prewar positions per the 2008 cease-fire agreement and reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the statement said.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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