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U.S. Downplays Need for War Probe
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Nov.'08 / 14:41

The U.S. Department of State official said it was now more important “to get both sides, particularly the Russians, to live up to their obligations,” rather than to look into “who did what first” in lead-up to August war.

Robert Wood, a deputy spokesman of the Department of State, was speaking at a news briefing on November 7, when asked about the New York Times article, which questions Georgia’s claims about the war’s start.

“We may or may never get to the bottom of who was actually responsible for what went on there,” he said. “I think we need to get away from looking at, you know, who did what first, because as I said, I don’t think we’ll ever really get to the bottom of that. And the important thing is for us to move forward, and that’s what we’re trying to do in terms of trying to reconstruct Georgia, bring about stability to the general region, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”

When pressed if such a stance of downplaying of what happened first, could be interpreted as “blind support for a U.S. ally” – Georgia, Wood responded: “I’ve said what I’ve said on this. I don’t know that we’ll ever get to the bottom of that. And what’s really important now is to get both sides, particularly the Russians, as I said, to live up to their obligations so that we can help bring stability to this part of the world.”

He also said that the United States “from the beginning, encouraged both sides not to be provoked or to provoke.”

“And the Georgians felt that they were provoked by the Russians. And, you know, our goal right now is to try to bring about stability in the region,” he added.

In September, at the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called for the creation of a U.S. commission to examine the August war. She has introduced a relevant bill to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“The conflict between Russia and Georgia has raised many questions about the Bush Administration’s handling of the crisis and the future of our relationships with Russia and its neighbors,” she said at the hearings.

“The best way to begin answering these questions is to create a commission that can establish the facts,” she added.

Meanwhile, in Tbilisi a ruling party lawmaker, Akaki Minashvili, who is a member of the Georgia’s parliamentary commission, which studies the August events, told Civil.Ge on November 8, that the commission’s final conclusions and recommendations will be based on both results of questioning of officials at the commission hearings and on materials which are available in the media sources – including the one published in the New York Times.

When asked if the commission planned to reach out personally those OSCE military observers, whose accounts were cited in the New York Times article, MP Minashvili said he was not now in the position to give a clear-cut response on that matter.

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