U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke will be in Tbilisi “shortly” to discuss Georgia’s cooperation with and contribution to NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, James Steinberg, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, said in Tbilisi on February 5.
Speaking with journalists before his departure from Georgia, Steinberg said that during his meeting with President Saakashvili, the latter “mentioned” his offer to the United States to use the Georgian territory for armaments supply route to Afghanistan.
“I indicated him that it really was something that needed to be discussed with the Pentagon… and encouraged him to talk with relevant people in Pentagon,” Steinberg said.
It was reported late last month that the U.S. Department of Defense was aware of the Georgian President’s offer, but had not yet substantially explored it.
Steinberg also said the U.S. was grateful for Georgia’s commitment to support operations in Afghanistan. Georgia sent a company-size unit to Afghanistan to contribute NATO-led forces and in addition it plans to send a battalion-size force this spring.
During his brief stay in Tbilisi, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State met with four opposition leaders and President Saakashvili on February 5, before leaving for Germany to participate in the Munich security conference.
“I was particularly pleased to come at this time, when we are now able to complete our promise and commitment of USD 1 billion assistance to Georgia… We are now in the position to move forward the last tranche of that commitment,” he said.
Building stronger democratic institutions, he said, was “an important component” of the U.S. assistance to Georgia.
According to the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi USD 469.89 million of the USD 1 billion aid package was allocated for economic assistance, including financing business projects through the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), as well as energy security and road infrastructure development.
USD 436.9 million of the aid package was allocated for humanitarian aid, including USD 250 million for budgetary support, as well as funds for support of IDPs.
USD 48.6 million of the package was allocated for good governance and democracy projects, including for support of civil society, rule of law, judiciary and political parties.
Slightly over 48 million was allocated for security measures, including for demining purposes, support to the police, coast guard and border control.
“We have a strong commitment to Georgia’s future as sovereign, independent and democratic state,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg, who arrived in Tbilisi from Yerevan, also said that he had discussed regional security issues with the Georgian President. He was accompanied by Philip Gordon, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.