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Russia not honouring ceasefire - US

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RUSSIA is still not honouring its ceasefire agreement with Georgia and continues to maintain a "large presence" of troops in the former Soviet republic, the US Defence Department said today.

"They are still not living up to the terms of the ceasefire agreement'' which Moscow signed with Tbilisi more than a week ago, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

"They are failing to live up to and honour the terms of the agreement,'' he said

"There continues to be a large presence of Russian forces in Georgia.''

Pressure has steadily built on Moscow, which sent tanks and troops into Georgian territory in response to a Georgian offensive on August 7 to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia, to adhere to the French-brokered peace agreement.

Russia withdrew tanks, artillery and hundreds of troops from their most advanced positions in Georgia on Friday, saying it had fulfilled all obligations under the agreement.

But as of last night, Russian troops still controlled access to the key port of Poti located south of the Moscow-backed rebel region of Abkhazia, and had established other checkpoints around South Ossetia, where the conflict began.

European countries today urged Russia to reject calls to recognise the independence of two Georgian breakaway regions, warning it would only ratchet up tensions in the battle-scarred region.

France, which announced it will convene a special European summit on the crisis in Georgia on September 1, expressed "concern'' today about reports of looting, intimidation and destruction of homes in South Ossetia.

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