Russia Soldiers Still Control Georgia's Gori

World | August 14, 2008, Thursday // 00:00

Russian troops are still in control of the key Georgian town of Gori, the Georgian government said Thursday, contradicting earlier claims they were pulling out.

Explosions have been heard in the town after the planned handover of Gori degenerated into a tense standoff.

Georgia's foreign ministry also said the Russians had entered Poti, a Black Sea port with an oil terminal vital to the country's fragile economy.

The apparent collapse of the planned withdrawal came as Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, pledged his continued support to the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Talks between Russian and Georgian military commanders ended when Russian-backed South Ossetian forces demanded that they be allowed to police the town, Al Jazeera reported.

In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov reinforced the Kremlin's determination not to guarantee Georgia's borders, The Guardian reported.

"One can forget about any talk about Georgia's territorial integrity because, I believe, it is impossible to persuade South Ossetia and Abkhazia to agree with the logic that they can be forced back into the Georgian state," Lavrov said.

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