Source AP ©

Bush urges Russia and Georgia to resolve South Ossetian dispute

The White House on Friday urged Russia and Georgia to resolve their dispute over South Ossetia peacefully.

"We urge restraint on all sides - that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters.

She said the administration has been talking to both sides, trying to help resolve the issue.

"We will continue to be engaged," Perino said in Beijing, where President Bush was preparing to attend the Olympics opening ceremonies.

She said she didn't know if Bush discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they chatted at a luncheon Friday for world leaders hosted by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Georgian troops launched a major military offensive Friday to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili accused Russia, which has close ties to the separatists, of bombing Georgian territory.

A Russian official denied the bombing. But Putin said the Georgian attack will draw retaliation and the Defense Ministry pledged to protect South Ossetians, most of whom have Russian citizenship.

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