German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a welcome ceremony in Tbilisi, Georgia, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. Merkel is on an official visit to Georgia. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

Merkel, in Georgia, supports territorial integrity

August 23, 2018 - 3:00 pm

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting Georgia, expressing support for the ex-Soviet nation's territorial integrity.

Georgia entirely lost control of its breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after an August 2008 war with Russia.

The conflict erupted when Georgian troops tried unsuccessfully to regain control over Moscow-backed South Ossetia and Russia sent troops that routed the Georgian military in five days of fighting. Russia strengthened its military presence in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia and recognized them as independent states after the war.

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said after Thursday's talks with Merkel that Germany's support is "more important than ever for us today." He accused Russia of breaching the 2008 peace deal, saying it "continues to occupy 20 percent of the Georgian territory."

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