The US and Russia have assigned high-level delegations to sensitive EU-sponsored talks aimed at promoting security in accordance with the cease-fire in Georgia, officials said.
US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried will head a three-member delegation arriving in Geneva in time for the start of the one-day talks on Wednesday, spokesman for the US mission to UN organisations in Geneva Dick Wilbur said on Tuesday.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin arrived on Tuesday, said an official of the Russian Mission, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't an authorised press spokesman.
The assignment of the delegations is the latest twist in the diplomatic challenge of arranging the talks to follow up on the cease-fire mediated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that ended the Russian-Georgian fighting in August.
Originally the talks were expected to bring ministers to Geneva for substantive discussions, but then diplomats said it was downgraded to expert level because of differences over the Abkhazia-South Ossetia participation.
Russia wants Abkhazia and South Ossetia representatives to take part, but Georgia strongly opposes the inclusion in the talks of representatives of the territories that it still regards as Georgian. Both regions were recognised as independent countries by Russia after the conflict.
The US and Russian delegations are considerably higher than expert level.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the EU presidency, and co-host UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon came to Geneva because of the talks, and they are even higher ranking.