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2008-09-10

Russia Agrees to Pull out of Key Areas of Georgia

By JAMEY KEATEN Associated Press Writer

Russia's president pledged Monday to withdraw troops from key areas of Georgia after 200 European Union monitors deploy later this month as part of a revised cease-fire agreement.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and the separatist Black Sea province of Abkhazia as independent nations after the five-day war and has ringed the regions with checkpoints the West says violate the terms of a cease-fire brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili cautiously endorsed the deal, but insisted any final settlement with Russia must respect his country's territorial integrity. He made clear he still considers the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia part of his country.

"There is no way Georgia will ever give up a piece of its sovereignty, a piece of its territory," Saakashvili said after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered the latest deal.

The short war between Georgia and Russia — which began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia followed by Russia invading and routing Georgia's military — has turned into a critical event in the post-Cold War world as Russia asserts its new economic and military clout and the West struggles to respond.

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