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TBILISI, Georgia — Russia should adhere to the conditions of the cease fire its leaders recently agreed to, said the highest-ranking U.S. military official to visit Georgia since hostilities began earlier this month.

"They should honor their commitment — the sooner, the better," said U.S. European Command chief Gen. John Craddock. "It’s overdue already."

Craddock gave his comments Thursday afternoon following a news conference with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Henrietta Fore, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. While Craddock also serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, he made his comments Thursday in his role as the EUCOM commander.

Russia has shown little, if any, effort to pull its troops out of areas it agreed to as part of the cease fire. On Tuesday, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said his forces would withdraw from most of Georgia by Friday.

"There are indications (Russians are leaving) but not enough of the nature that would lead me to believe that it is happening as fast as it should," Craddock said.

Saakashvili strongly reaffirmed his stance that he will not tolerate Russians in the contested Georgian areas of South Ossetia and Abkahzia, or in the so-called "buffer zones" that Russian troops have occupied.

"We will never allow long-term Russian presence either in those enclaves or especially in the buffer zones," Saakashvili said.

Craddock, Fore and senior EUCOM officials arrived in the Georgian capital on Thursday afternoon. The purpose of the visit is to ensure that U.S. humanitarian aid is being delivered to Georgia as efficiently and effectively as possible and to talk with Georgia military and political leaders, Craddock said.

Craddock and his staff were greeted at the airport by John Tefft, U.S. ambassador to Georgia. The group visited a displaced persons camp and then traveled to meet with Georgian defense minister David Kezerashvili and other Georgian military officials.

Before the meeting, Tefft told Craddock that it looked like the Russians were digging in, not pulling out.

From the trip, Craddock will make a recommendation to the Department of Defense on what he believes should be done to assist the Georgians.

On the flight from Belgium to Georgia, Craddock offered his assessment on how Russia’s actions in Georgia have affected the strategic map of Europe.

"What we have said for many years — there’s no danger of that type of conflict in the European theater of operations — probably has to be reassessed because we’ve had a situation here where a county has since been invaded," he said. "And that’s going to cause us now to go back and relook at some of the assumptions we’ve made."

The U.S. and its allies need to take a hard look at the new reality of the situation in Europe regarding Russia, Craddock said.

"I’m working through my assumptions and assessments," he said. "I think it’s time for others to do the same."


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