8 Parties Kick Off Georgia Talks

APGvindzhiya arriving for talks at the UN's offices in Geneva on Wednesday.
GENEVA -- European Union mediators said Wednesday that they had succeeded in getting talks restarted between Russia and Georgia to resolve security and refugee issues left over from the conflict in South Ossetia.

Pierre Morel of the 27-nation EU said it is the first time since the war in August that all of the parties, including separatists, have met directly.

They are building on a first attempt at negotiations that broke down last month after the sides failed even to agree on the format of the talks.

Morel said Wednesday that eight parties met behind closed doors at UN offices in Geneva for the one-day talks and agreed to meet again next month.

The other participants are Russia, Georgia, the United Nations, the United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Maxim Gvindzhiya, the deputy foreign minister of Abkhazia's separatist government, expressed hope that the talks would eventually lead the parties to resolve their differences but warned that "it's a long process."

More than 160,000 people fled fighting that broke out Aug. 7 when Georgian forces launched an attack to regain control of South Ossetia. Russian forces repelled the attack and drove deep into Georgia.

The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 30,000 people are still unable to return to their homes because of insecurity.