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Costa Rica breaks with U.S., refuses to condemn Russia

August 8, 2008

Costa Rica broke this week with the United States over fighting between Russia and Georgia.

Costa Rica, which currently sits on the United Nations Security Council, rejected calls by the United States for a U.N. resolution condemning Russia for its attack on Georgia. Accusing Georgia of attacking civilians in the separatist province of South Ossetia, Russia began rolling troops into Georgia on Friday.

“A condemnation seems inappropriate to us when Georgia started the hostilities,” Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno told The Tico Times.

Still, he added, “Any incursion by Russia or another power … beyond South Ossetia would be very unfortunate.”

According to press reports, Russian troops have gone past South Ossetia, dropping bombs deep into Georgia.

Russian President Dmitiri Medvedev agreed yesterday to a cease-fire that would withdraw troops to the positions they occupied before fighting broke out Thursday. Still, newswires reported that violence in Georgia continued even after Medvedev´s announcement.

The conflict has again exposed the weakness of the U.N. Security Council, which met five times last weekend and Monday to try to end hostilities. Faced with a Russian veto, the council failed to reach an agreement by yesterday afternoon.

Stagno said he supported an end to the fighting under terms that respect Georgia´s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” so that South Ossetia remains an autonomous province within Georgia.

He said Russian peacekeepers should remain in South Ossetia under a 1992 agreement by Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian authorities that gave the province effective autonomy. Stagno also suggested that the United Nations send a team to the region to ensure that all parties are respecting the cease-fire, South Ossetia´s autonomy and Georgia´s borders.

Long-simmering tensions in South Ossetia have been revived under Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, a U.S. ally who has sought to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to the chagrin of Moscow, which has given South Ossetians aid, military protection and even passports to the mostly pro-Russian population.

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