Sunday, August 10, 2008

McCain, Obama step up criticism of Russia over Georgia

By Jeff Mason

HONOLULU, Aug 9 (Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain stepped up their criticism of Russia's military activity in Georgia on Saturday, calling for Moscow to withdraw its forces and the international community to facilitate peace talks.

McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona who has made foreign policy and national security the centerpiece of his campaign, said he spoke to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Saturday, their second conversation since the crisis erupted.

Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, said he had also spoken to Saakashvili and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Russia and Georgia came into direct conflict after Tbilisi launched an offensive to regain control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

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