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US hits out at 'bully' Russia.

Byline: By ED JAMES

AMERICA accused Russia of bullying its embattled neighbour Georgia yesterday as a working peace deal for the region still seemed far away.

President George Bush said Russia's behaviour belonged to the Cold War era and said it was using intimidation to get its way.

In his strongest declaration of support for Georgia Mr Bush declared that America would stand by the Georgian people and its territorial integrity must be respected after last week's eruption of violence.

"We will not cast them aside," he said in Washington.

But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at virtually the same time, said the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia at the centre of the conflict appear destined for independence.

"After what happened, it's unlikely Ossetians and Abkhazians will ever be able to live together with Georgia in one state," he said in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Georgia to watch President Mikhail Saakashvili sign a ceasefire deal.

After he agreed to the deal she called for Russia to remove all its troops from Georgia.

"This is not an agreement about the future of Abkhazia and the future of South Ossetia," Ms Rice said. "This is about getting Russian troops out."

In Georgia Russian troops allowed some humanitarian supplies into the strategic city of Gori but continued their blockade, raising doubts about Russian intentions.

Gori, about 45 miles west of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, is key to when - or if - Russia will honour the terms of a cease-fire that calls for both sides to pull their forces back to the positions they held before fighting broke out last week in the separatist region of South Ossetia.

Russian forces also were in several other cities deep in Georgia, officials said.

By holding Gori Russian forces effectively cut the country in half. Russian military vehicles were blocking the eastern road into the city yesterday although they allowed in one Georgia bus with bread.

Frustrations were mounting in the capital over confusion about the cease-fire deal Human Rights Watch said it had evidence that Russian planes used cluster bombs against civilian areas in Georgia.

The group said aircraft killed at least 11 civilians and injured dozens in Gori and the village of Ruisi.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2008
Words:384
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