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Merkel calls for end to South Ossetia violence

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Merkel calls for end to South Ossetia violence
Georgian troops shell the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali. Photo: DPA
18:31 CEST+02:00
Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday called for violence to end in South Ossetia, as her foreign minister held spoke with his Russian counterpart and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

"Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for prudence and moderation from all sides of the conflict in South Ossetia and for an immediate stop to all use of violence," the German government said in a statement.

"The government is in close agreement with its partners in the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and NATO in this respect."

The comments came as Russian tanks and troops entered South Ossetia after a Georgian military offensive to reclaim the breakaway region. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier repeated Merkel's message in phone calls with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and with Saakashvili, calling on "all sides to take steps to calm the situation," a foreign ministry

statement said.

Berlin heads a loose alliance known as the UN Group of Friends of the Secretary General which has been trying to cool tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi over Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic.

Steinmeier, a well-known figure on the international diplomatic scene tipped as a possible successor to Merkel, last month visited Georgia, Abkhazia and Russia in July to present a peace plan.

Merkel is due to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on August 15 in Sotchi on the Black Sea, near Russia's border with Georgia - a meeting that will still go ahead, the Bild newspaper said.

"It is particularly important in the current situation to seek talks with the Russian side," Bild cited a government spokesman as saying ahead of the publication of the paper's Saturday edition.

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