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NATO reiterates Georgia warning

April 30, 2008 at 7:42 PM

BRUSSELS, April 30 (UPI) -- NATO repeated its warnings Wednesday to Russia against meddling in the affairs of Georgia as it deals with its two breakaway republics.

The European military alliance says Russia's actions threaten to "undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Georgia as it deals with the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Two days after a visit by Georgian special envoy David Bakradze to NATO headquarters in Brussels resulted in a warning to Russia to refrain from using force to aid the breakaway republics, NATO spokesman spokesman James Appathurai reiterated the warning.

"The steps that have been taken (by Russia) and the rhetoric have increased tensions and undermined Georgia's territorial integrity," Appathurai told the BBC.

Russia has sent peacekeeping troops to the region, saying it suspects Georgia is preparing to invade the breakaway republics amidst rising tensions. It says Georgia has gathered 1,500 soldiers and police units in the upper Kodori Gorge region of Abkhazia, where Tbilisi still holds sway. Georgia has denied it has any plans to invade the republics.

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