|UN fails to agree statement on South Ossetia fighting|
August 8, 2008
The Security Council early Friday expressed concern about the worsening fighting in Georgia's breakaway enclave of South Ossetia, but could not agree a Russian statement urging the warring sides to renounce the use of force.
"We regret it has not yet been possible to agree a Security Council statement on this issue," Britain's deputy ambassador Karen Pierce said during an emergency meeting called by Russia.
"We hope it will be possible in the days to come," she added. "But the absence of a statement tonight should not be taken as a sign that the Security Council is not engaged on this issue."
The council meeting was called by Russia following violent clashes as Georgian forces surrounded South Ossetia's main city.
At least 15 civilians were reported killed by South Ossetian officials as Tskhinvali came under heavy Georgian shelling.
Late Thursday, the 15-member council kicked off closed-door consultations on the Russian statement that would have urged Georgia and South Ossetia separatists to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.
The statement would have expressed "serious concern at the escalation of violence," called on both sides to "cease bloodshed without delay and renounce the use of force" and urged the parties to "return immediately to the negotiating table."
But after more than two hours of bargaining, Council members were unable to find common ground on the Russian text.
Belgium's UN Ambassador Jan Grauls, who chairs the council this month, said members "expressed serious concern at the escalation of violence and asked for an immediate resumption of dialogue."
But he also acknowledged that, due to the late hour, the 15-member council "was not in a position to express itself" on the issue.
The key sticking point, according to Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, was "the reluctance" of some members of the Council to accept a reference to "the renunciation of the use of force."
Churkin said he had warned the council over the past few days about a Georgian military buildup in South Ossetia and condemned Tbilisi's refusal to renounce the use of force to settle its dispute with its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
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