EU to press home rebuke in Russian/Georgian visits

It has been described as a diplomatic slap on the wrist.The European Union has decided to freeze talks with Moscow on closer ties until Russian troops withdraw from Georgia. The extraordinary summit in Brussels was the first to be called since the outbreak of the war in Iraq in 2003.

French and current EU President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would visit both Moscow and Tbilisi next Monday for talks on the crisis in the Caucasus, accompanied by the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

He stressed that the EU was not seeking a confrontation with Russia, but that the recent military action and recognition of an independent South Ossetia and Abhkazia had provoked deep concern in Europe.

In a joint statement, EU leaders said relations with Moscow were “at a crossroads”.

“It is clear that in the light of recent events, we cannot continue as if nothing has happened,” added the European Commission President.

After many delays, talks on a new framework for diplomatic, economic and military relations were finally launched back in July. The next round was scheduled for September 15.

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