French President to Visit Georgia in Hopes to End Russian Conflict

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to Georgia for meetings with the embattled country's leader in a bid to help end to hostilities with Russia, Sarkozy's office said Monday.

Sarkozy is to swing through the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, following a previously announced trip Tuesday to Moscow for talks with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, Sarkozy's office said in a statement.

The French leader's trip comes on the heels of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's European Union peace mission to both countries on Sunday and Monday. Kouchner's proposal for an immediate cease-fire was met with enthusiam in Georgia, with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili signing a cease-fire pledge.

Meanwhile Monday, France announced the air shipment of a first load of humanitarian aid to Georgia and said the plane can bring home French nationals and other Europeans trapped in the Georgian capital because of the conflict.

The French Foreign Ministry said the decision to ship 33 short tons of supplies, including tents, grew out of concern for the growing number of victims and displaced persons and the "considerable damage" caused by the conflict.

Fighting erupted after U.S.-backed Georgia launched an attack Friday to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Russia then sent in troops and bombed Georgian sites from the conflict zone. Foreigners are becoming blocked with interruptions in commercial airplane service.

France said the 250-seat Airbus A-340 being used to ferry in humanitarian aid can bring home French and other European citizens wishing to leave.

Kouchner, speaking from Georgia on Monday said that he met with the Georgian president in an effort to mediate the conflict and found him "determined to make peace."

Kouchner said on RTL radio that Saakashvili accepted nearly all proposals put to him during a meeting in Tbilisi.

The peace plan is "rather simple," Kouchner said. It includes an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and access for victims to aid, he said.