WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President George Bush is again calling on Russia to respect the territorial integrity of Georgia. Georgian officials say Russian tanks are moving deeper into the country.
President Bush met with intelligence officials at the CIA for an update on fighting in Georgia. Speaking to reporters following that briefing, Mr. Bush again called on Moscow to respect the French-brokered cease-fire.
“My call, of course, is for the territorial integrity of Georgia to be respected and for the cease-fire agreement to be honored,” said President Bush.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters the world can forget about Georgia’s territorial integrity, as President Dmitri Medvedev met with leaders of the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abzhazia.
White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino called the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement “bluster” that the Bush Administration will ignore.
President Bush sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to France to meet with President Nicholas Sarkozy and to the Georgian capital for talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Mr. Bush says he looks forward to hearing from Rice Friday evening when she will brief him on her trip at his Texas ranch. The two will then take part in a broader national security council meeting from the ranch Saturday.
Georgian officials say Russian tanks are moving deeper into the country. Interior Ministry officials in Tbilisi say the 100-tank column headed east from bases in western Georgia, but could not specify their destination.
U.S. military officials say a 12-member team is working to assess the security of Georgian transportation routes to deliver relief supplies.
President Bush has ordered the U.S. military to begin a humanitarian relief mission for Georgia. Two U.S. cargo planes have already arrived in Tbilisi.
Mr. Bush says he expects Russia to honor its commitment to ensure that all lines of communication and transportation, including seaports, airports, roads and airspace remain open for the delivery of assistance and for civilian transit.
Source: VOA News