U.N.’s Ban unable to reach Russian leader on phone

A2313123116.jpgUNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has so far been unable to contact Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by telephone to discuss the crisis in Georgia, a U.N. spokesman said on Friday.

Ban has spoken to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who called him on Thursday.

Asked by reporters whether Ban had also been in touch with Medvedev, spokesman Farhan Haq said, “The secretary-general has been trying to contact the Russian president, so that’s a call that we’re still trying to arrange. We weren’t able to set up a call.”

Ban is expected to meet Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, possibly on Saturday, Haq said.

A simmering crisis over the rebel Georgian region of South Ossetia exploded a week ago, when Georgia sent a force to try to retake the Russian-backed province, provoking a massive counter-attack by Moscow.

Ban said on Thursday he was alarmed by the humanitarian situation and lawlessness in the conflict areas in Georgia.

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