Update as of 0900 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
1. Russian forces still show no signs of withdrawing from Georgia.
2. Russian Commander states they will build and occupy outposts in Georgia proper.
3. Taliban Elements attack US Base in Khost yesterday; FOB Salerno.
4. Split in Pakistan Government Coalition continues.
5. Missile Deal is signed in Poland by Secretary of State Rice.
From Fox News:
IGOETI, Georgia — A convoy of badly needed food aid for beleaguered Georgians rumbled through a Russian checkpoint Wednesday, waved through by soldiers who themselves showed no signs of fulfilling their president's promise of a pullback within two days.
A top Russian general, meanwhile, said Russia plans to construct a series of checkpoints manned by hundreds of soldiers in the so-called "security zone" around Georgia's de-facto border with the breakaway territory of South Ossetia.
The Russian-backed separatist region was the flashpoint of fighting this month that brought Russian troops deep into Georgia. A cease-fire that calls for both sides to pull back to their positions before the brief war allows Russia to maintain troops in a zone extending more than four miles into Georgia from South Ossetian line.
Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy head of the Russian general staff, told a briefing Wednesday that Russia will build a double line of 18 checkpoints in the zone, with the posts in the front line to be manned by about 270 soldiers.
Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, speaking at the organization's headquarters in Geneva, said it would send workers to Tskhinvali, capital of the disputed region of South Ossetia, as well as bolster its presence in badly affected areas of Georgia.
Both Russia and Georgia have accused each other of ethnic cleansing during the conflict, which has centered on the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The Red Cross announcement came after discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kellenberger.
Kellenberger said that the priority in South Ossetia would be to "restore contact between family members who have been separated by the conflict and to obtain information about people who remain unaccounted for," as well as "visit all those captured or detained in connection with the conflict to assess their treatment and living conditions."
He added that in Georgia the organization had already brought in more that 430 tonnes of food and other relief supplies for up to 25,000 people during the past week.
The conflict began when Georgia launched a large-scale attack on South Ossetia on August 7 after a week of what it said were separatist attacks on Georgian villages bordering the enclave. The next day Russia sent hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles across the international border, driving into Georgia from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Watch residents of Georgian villages flee »
The civilian death toll from the conflict is unclear. Russia has said as many as 2,000 people were killed when Georgian forces cracked down on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, but Georgia said the death toll is in the hundreds.
The U.N. refugee agency estimates that nearly 160,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, from Georgia proper and South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff of armed forces, said Wednesday that 64 of its soldiers died during fighting with Georgia, with another 323 wounded.
Meanwhile NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Tuesday that Russian forces were still inside Georgia, despite a European Union-brokered cease-fire agreement to withdraw -- and despite Moscow saying it had begun pulling out Monday.
"We do not see signals of this happening," Scheffer said after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. "There can be no business as usual with Russia under the present circumstances."
A statement from the ministers said that NATO members "remain concerned by Russia's actions," the statement said, calling Russian military action "disproportionate."
But Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said NATO's accusations were "biased."
Lavrov said NATO was taking the side of Georgia, whose forces he said had failed to withdraw to their barracks.
"They blame us as if there were no requirements for the Georgian side in the six points" of the cease-fire agreement, he said. "I mean the requirements to bring back their troops to the places where they are on a permanent basis."
From The NY Times:
Taliban insurgents mounted their most serious attacks in six years of fighting in Afghanistan over the last two days, including a coordinated assault by at least 10 suicide bombers against one of the largest American military bases in the country, and another by about 100 insurgents who killed 10 elite French paratroopers.
The attack on the French, in a district near Kabul, added to the sense of siege around the capital and was the deadliest single loss for foreign troops in a ground battle since the United States-led invasion chased the Taliban from power in 2001.
Taken together, the attacks were part of a sharp escalation in fighting as insurgents have seized a window of opportunity to press their campaign this summer — taking advantage of a wavering NATO commitment, an outgoing American administration, a flailing Afghan government and a Pakistani government in deep disarray that has given the militants freer rein across the border.
As a result, this year is on pace to be the deadliest in the Afghan war so far, as the insurgent attacks show rising zeal and sophistication. The insurgents are employing not only a growing number of suicide and roadside bombs, but are also waging increasingly well-organized and complex operations using multiple attackers with different types of weapons, NATO officials say.
NATO and American military officials place blame for much of the increased insurgent activity on the greater freedom of movement the militants have in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the Afghan border. The turmoil in the Pakistani government, with the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, has added to the sense of a vacuum of authority there.
But at least as important, the officials say, is the fact that Pakistan’s military has agreed to a series of peace deals with the militants under which it stopped large-scale operations in the tribal areas in February, allowing the insurgents greater freedom to train, recruit and carry out attacks into Afghanistan.
The attack with multiple suicide bombers, which struck Camp Salerno in the eastern province of Khost, wounded three American soldiers and six members of the Afghan Special Forces, Afghan officials said. It was one of the most complex attacks yet in Afghanistan, and included a backup fighting force that tried to breach defenses to the airport at the base.
The assault followed a suicide car bombing at the outer entrance to the same base on Monday morning, which killed 12 Afghan workers lining up to enter the base, and another attempted bombing that was thwarted later.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, reached by telephone at an unknown location, said the attack was carried out by 15 suicide bombers, each equipped with machine guns and explosives vests, and backed by 30 more militants.
He also claimed that some of the bombers had breached the walls of the base and had killed a number of American soldiers and destroyed equipment and helicopters. This last claim was denied by Gen. Zaher Azimi of the Afghan military.
The insurgents began attacking with rockets and mortars at 11 p.m. Monday, and a group of militants began to move toward the airport side of the base, the Afghan military said. An Afghan commando unit encircled them, killing 13 militants, including 10 who were wearing suicide vests, General Azimi said.
A fierce battle raged through much of the night, until 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Arsala Jamal, the governor of Khost. American helicopter strikes against the militants, who were moving through a cornfield around the base, also struck a house in a village, killing two children and wounding two women and two men, the provincial police chief, Abdul Qayum Baqizoy, said.
The United States and Poland on Wednesday signed a formal agreement to base U.S. ballistic missiles on Polish soil, a move that has angered Russia and stoked regional tensions over the territorial conflict in Georgia.
Signing the deal with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed it as a breakthrough in international cooperation but stressed the missiles would only be used for defense.
"It will help both the (NATO) alliance and Poland and the United States respond to the coming threats," Rice said after the signing. "Missile defense, of course, is aimed at no one. It is in our defense that we do this."
Moscow says the missile-defense system is aimed at blunting Russia's nuclear deterrent. It has warned the deal could open Poland up to attack.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose country has been pushing for the missile-defense system to be placed in Poland, said it strengthens the two countries' strategic partnership and will bring long term benefits to their security.
The agreement will put a ground-based ballistic missile defense interceptor facility with 10 interceptor missiles in Poland close to the Russian border, according to the declaration. The United States will begin deploying the Patriot air and missile defense system next year, with a garrison to support it by 2012.
The countries will negotiate a separate agreement for the status of U.S. forces in Poland to support the system, the declaration says. The United States will also provide training to Poland and provide real-time information about missiles tracked by the radar, which will be located in the Czech Republic.
BBC News Video of President Musharraf of Pakistan:
Deadlock between Pakistan's coalition partners over the restoration of deposed judges has raised questions about the survival of the government that forced President Pervez Musharraf's resignation.
Musharraf, the former army chief and key ally of the United States in its campaign against terrorism, resigned as president of nuclear-armed Pakistan on Monday to avoid impeachment by the coalition government.
But the two main coalition partners, the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and that of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, are unnatural allies.
Bitter rivals during the 1990s, when Bhutto and Sharif alternated as prime minister, the parties were thrown together by their opposition to Musharraf. His departure could undermine the logic of their alliance, analysts said.
"The glue that was holding the coalition partners together was Mr Musharraf. Now that punching bag has gone," said Rashid Rehman, a former newspaper editor and analyst.
"Going by yesterday's deliberations, alarm has been raised," Rehman said, referring to a long meeting on Tuesday in which the two main parties failed to break their deadlock over the judges Musharraf fired last year.
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