MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy that Georgian troops must return to their barracks in line with a French-brokered ceasefire, the Kremlin said on Thursday.
A Kremlin statement said Medvedev and Sarkozy spent more than an hour discussing the Georgian crisis by telephone. Sarkozy’s office did not immediately release an account of the conversation.
“The Russian side has stressed the need for Tbilisi to carry out point four of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, under which all Georgian troops should be returned to their original bases,” the Kremlin said in its account of the conversation.
“(Medvedev and Sarkozy) also discussed additional agreements, which may in future ensure safety in the areas near the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” the Kremlin statement said.
It did not say when the conversation took place, or on whose initiative.
France has joined other Western states condemning Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Moscow sent its troops into the two separatist regions of Georgia earlier this month to repel Tbilisi’s attempts to retake South Ossetia by force.
After pulling back much of its military force from the conflict zone in line with the ceasefire deal, Russia is keeping troops and armor in buffer zones on the territory of Georgia proper around the two regions.
France holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. Leaders of the bloc will meet on Monday to discuss a response to Russian actions in Georgia, an ex-Soviet state which is seeking European Union and NATO membership.
Russia says it had to use force to avert a “genocide” of the South Ossetian population at the hands of Georgian troops. Georgia has accused Moscow of trying to annexe its territory and recreate the Soviet Union.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had condemned Russia’s behavior in a telephone conversation with Medvedev and demanded a speedy pullout from Georgia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Merkel had made no such statement and described the conversation between Medvedev and the German Chancellor as “constructive.”