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Agreement reached on OSCE in Georgia

VIENNA, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- After weeks of disagreements, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced plans to extend the OSCE mandate in war-ravaged Georgia.

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, OSCE chairperson-in-office, announced the mandate extension Thursday after an agreement was reached by the 56-country security organization, the OSCE reported.

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The announcement comes after weeks of lobbying efforts from top OSCE officials urging member countries to vote to extend the monitoring and humanitarian mandate.

Bakoyannis, calling the situation in Georgia following a violent conflict with Russia an "urgent humanitarian challenge," faced opposition from Russia, which until Thursday had refused to extend the mandate.

"This decision to extend the mandate of the OSCE monitors shows that all states agree that the OSCE is a critical part of international efforts to secure lasting stability in the region," Bakoyannis said in a statement.

The OSCE Permanent Council extended the mandate through June 2009.

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