US condemns Syria’s ties with Georgian breakaway regions

Tbilisi has threatened to cut ties with Damascus after Bashar Assad's decision to recognize the breakaway Georgian regions of regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (Shutterstock image)
Updated 02 June 2018
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US condemns Syria’s ties with Georgian breakaway regions

  • Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru previously recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Following that fight in the early 1990s, Georgia and Russia fought a war over the regions in August 2008.

WASHINGTON: The US on Wednesday condemned Syria’s decision to recognize two breakaway regions in Georgia and create diplomatic ties, saying it fully backed Georgia’s independence and reiterating its call for Russia to withdraw from the area.

“The United States strongly condemns the Syrian regime’s intention to establish diplomatic relations with the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“These regions are part of Georgia. The United States’ position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia is unwavering,” the statement said.

The dispute is the latest strain in US-Russia relations, particularly over Syria. Moscow has provided military backing for President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria’s seven-year civil war that has killed half a million people and driven more than half the country’s pre-war population from their homes.

On Tuesday, Georgia said it would sever diplomatic relations with Syria after Damascus moved to recognize the two regions as independent states.

Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru previously recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Following that fight in the early 1990s, Georgia and Russia fought a war over the regions in August 2008.

The US and EU have backed Georgia in calling the Russian operation a naked land grab.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged deeper security and economic support for Georgia.

He also called on Russia to withdraw its forces from Abkhazia and South Ossetia under the cease-fire agreement that followed the 2008 war. The department echoed that request on Wednesday.

“We fully support Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and call on all states to ... do the same,” Nauert said.

Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean region in eastern Ukraine has also led to a war there between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces that has killed more than 10,000 people in three years.


Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber spotted on monument

Updated 8 min 55 sec ago
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Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber spotted on monument

PARIS: The Eiffel Tower was evacuated on Monday afternoon after a man was spotted climbing up the Paris landmark, the company that operates the structure said.
"A climber has been spotted. It's the standard procedure. We have to stop the person, and in that case we evacuate the tower," an official with the SETE operator told AFP, adding that police were on the scene.
The esplanade underneath the monument was also evacuated.
"We kindly advise our visitors to postpone their visit," the SETE added on Twitter.
Police have made contact with the climber but do not yet know why he began his ascent via the iron beams, a police source told AFP.
The tower is regularly the target of rogue freeclimbers hoping to scale one of the world's most famous structures, often for bragging rights.

An unidentified man (L) climbs the Eiffel Tower, which had to be evacuated, in Paris, France, May 20, 2019. (Reuters)

But police have also been called in several times in recent years to try to thwart suicide attempts.
In October 2017, a young man ventured out on one of the beams and threatened to jump before police were able to convince him to come back.
In 2012, a British man managed to climb to the very top of the 324-metre-high tower before plunging to his death.
Nearly seven million people a year visit the 324-metre-high structure, which last week celebrated its 130th anniversary.
The first two floors can be reached by either elevator or stairs, but only elevators whisk people to the top observation deck.
That didn't stop the French urban freeclimber Alain Robert from making it one of his first targets in his campaign to scale the world's biggest buildings with no technical climbing gear.
He got to the top -- not including the antenna-- in the mid 1990s.