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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the Russian-led peacekeeping
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the Russian-led peacekeeping contingent in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia should secure the support of all parties involved in the "frozen" conflict.

"I know the position of the Georgian government vis-a-vis the CIS peacekeeping operation," Ban Ki-moon said in a RIA Novosti interview on Tuesday ahead of his visit to Moscow on April 9-11. "And it would be very important for any peacekeeping operations to gain the support and confidence of all the parties concerned."

Russia maintains peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both republics broke away from Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Tbilisi accuses Moscow of backing separatism in the region and demands the replacement of the peacekeepers by an international force. Moscow dismisses the accusations and says the withdrawal of its troops could trigger new bloodshed.

"This is a sensitive issue," Ban Ki-moon said. "My major primary concern is first of all to assist the peaceful resolution and also help these internally displaced persons and provide humanitarian assistance and protect human rights."

Russia's parliament passed a resolution last month urging the Kremlin to consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia's pleas for recognition. The move came as Georgia was taking ultimately unsuccessful steps to join a program which would put it on track to join NATO. Tbilisi slammed the resolution as "blatant interference" in its domestic affairs.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia also appealed to the UN for recognition.

Moscow has repeatedly said that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17 could set a precedent for secessionist-minded regions throughout the world, including in former Soviet states.

In Moscow, Ban Ki-moon will meet with outgoing President Vladimir Putin, president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other officials.

One of the topics set to be on the agenda of his Moscow visit is Russia's request for a greater representation in the organization's key bodies to reflect the country's growing role on the world stage, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin.

"I am aware of such wishes of the Russian government that more Russians be represented and work in the UN system. I would expect that Russia propose some very good candidates for the posts," Ban Ki-moon said.

In the interview, Ban Ki-moon also reaffirmed the UN's role as "a leading force to bring peace, security and development and protecting human rights all throughout the world," but acknowledged the need for reform to make the organization more efficient and transparent.


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