World urges Russia to curb onslaught

August 10, 2008

PARIS (AFP) -- Western leaders called Saturday on Russia to curb its military onslaught against Georgia over a breakaway region and Poland demanded an emergency EU summit to discuss the Caucasus crisis.

“We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops,” US President George Bush said in Beijing. “We call for an end to the Russian bombings and a return by the parties to the status quo of August 6th.”
Bush said the United States was working with European countries to launch a mediation effort to end the fighting in South Ossetia where Russian and Georgian troops are now fighting each other.
Bush has spoken to to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgian President Mikheil Saakahvili about the conflict, the White House said.
“Russia needs to support these efforts so that peace can be restored as quickly as possible,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said his country has asked for an emergency EU summit on the battle for South Ossetia.
He said he had asked the French EU presidency “to urgently convene a meeting of the European Council at the level of heads of government,” the PAP news agency reported.
Sirkorski said he expected foreign ministers to meet within days and for a summit to be convened.
International concerns mounted as Russia bombed a key Georgian port and the Georgian city of Gori.
The European Union and NATO have called for a halt to hostilities and the UN Security Council was to meet again Saturday seeking agreement on a call for an immediate ceasefire after talks failed Friday.
EU foreign policy chief Solana was to speak with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko as part of efforts to resolve the conflict, an official said.
Condemnation was particularly strong from among a group of former Soviet satellite states, most whom are now EU members and who number among pro-western Georgia's allies.
Following talks between the presidents of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine, Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Petras Vaitiekunas is in Georgia on a fact-finding mission.
Vaitiekunas said in a statement that “Russian military forces have gone through all the red lines by crossing an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia.
“This is a clear act with visible elements of aggression and an outrageous violation of international law with grave consequences to regional and Euro-Atlantic stability and security as well as to Euro-Atlantic relations with Russia,” he added.
Iran, which is close to the conflict zone, voiced its concern over the “killing of defenseless people” and called for “an immediate halt to the clashes,” foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said.
“Iran is ready to offer any help ... under its principal policies of contributing to the establishment of peace and stability in the region.
“A worsening of the crisis could affect the whole region with its negative consequences,” he added, urging the two sides to negotiate.
Pope Benedict XVI would expressed his concern over the conflict during his weekly address on Sunday, the Vatican said.
“We hope that wisdom, the desire for peace and negotiation can prevail over the use of force,” said the head of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi.