EU summit welcomes withdrawal of Russian troops 2008-10-16 18:50:41   Print

    BRUSSELS, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- The heads of state and government from the 27 European Union (EU) countries on Thursday welcomed the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia under an EU-brokered ceasefire agreement, but failed to set a timetable for resuming talks on a new cooperation and partnership deal with Russia.

    "The European Council welcomes the withdrawal of Russian troops which followed the agreements of Aug. 12 and Sept. 8 as well as the launching in Geneva of the international discussions provided for by those agreements," the leaders said in the conclusion document of the summit.

    The two-day summit, which ended Thursday, asked the European Commission and the Council to continue a full in-depth evaluation of EU-Russia relations with a view to the forthcoming summit on Nov. 14 in Nice, France, it said.

    "It will be taken into account in the further negotiations for a new Partnership Agreement with Russia," the document said.

    An earlier version of the conclusion had said that talks would restart in November, but France, the current EU presidency, failed to convince Britain, Poland, Sweden and Baltic states to agree with it.

    These countries have opposed any quick move toward warming up ties with Russia, insisting that the EU should make sure Russia is fully observing an EU-mediated ceasefire agreement before resuming negotiations.

    EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who is responsible for the evaluation of EU-Russia ties, told reporters Thursday that she expected to have the document ready in time for a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers to make a decision on Nov. 10 on relaunching talks.

    EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters that he hoped very much that talks will be resumed before Nov. 14.

    On Oct. 8, Russia completed its pullout of troops stationed in the "buffer zones" near Georgia's two breakaway regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Under the ceasefire agreement, Russian forces would withdraw from these areas before Oct. 10. Otherwise, negotiations on a new EU-Russia cooperation and partnership agreement could not be resumed.

    The EU suspended the talks after the Georgia-Russia conflict in the summer.

    On ties with other eastern neighbors, the conclusion document said the EU "is resolved, in particular through its neighborhood policy, to supporting its eastern neighbors in their efforts to achieve economic modernization and democratization."

    The document called for a strengthening of the EU's relations with Moldova and Georgia.

    The summit asked the European Council to conduct an initial examination of the proposals for a future "Eastern Partnership" of the EU.

    The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, would submit the proposals in November, said the document.

Editor: Du Guodong
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