UNchaired council on GeorgiaAbkhaz conflict meets for first time since 2001

The meeting, chaired in Tbilisi, the capital, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Georgia, Heidi Tagliavini, discussed security-related issues, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and social and economic matters.Also participating in Monday’s meeting were representatives of Russia as facilitator, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the so-called Group of Friends of the Secretary-General – Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, France and the United States – who are seeking to promote a peaceful solution.The Council had not met since 2001, with various proposed gatherings cancelled at the request of one side or the other. Monday’s meeting adopted a protocol that envisages concrete dates of meetings of the Council’s three working groups in May and June.The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which consists of some 130 uniformed personnel supported by more than 100 international civilian personnel and 184 local civilian staff, was established in 1994 after an accord reached in Moscow ended the fighting in Georgia’s north-western corner. The Security Council extended its mission for a further six months in March.In his most recent report on Georgia, Mr. Annan stressed the need for both sides to build on February’s UN-chaired talks in Geneva involving the Group of Friends, which called for confidence-building measures between the parties.