Georgia and the United States are working to determine the way forward on further trade cooperation, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, said before meeting with President Saakashvili in Washington on February 1.
“Georgia is a valued partner,” she said. “They are actively participating in Afghanistan, where Georgian soldiers are showing great courage and professionalism.”
“We are pursuing a system of consultations to determine the way forward on further trade and investment,” Clinton said.
President Obama said after meeting with his Georgian counterpart in the White House on January 30, that possibility of free trade agreement with Georgia would be explored.
“There’s a lot of work going on in our bilateral consultations on education, on health, on good governance, on rule of law, on defense and security cooperation,” said Clinton, who is expected to visit Georgia this year.
President Saakashvili said before talks with the U.S. Secretary of State, that he was “totally elated” after talks with President Obama, “because I heard everything I wanted to hear.”
“I’ve been in there [in the Oval Office] before. But this time, because the country has also matured – my country has also matured up to the challenges – I think we now are moving to another level in cooperation,” Saakashvili said.
“And with free trade agreement, nobody could have imagined that Georgia would ever start to qualify for that a few years ago. The next level of defense cooperation – and we are proud to serve with you in Afghanistan – was unimaginable a couple of years ago.”
“Thank you for treating us like this… as I said, my nation [is] watching, people in our region have been watching and… we are not going back empty handed,” he said, adding that he now had “so many things to carry back” to Georgia and “it’s sensational.”
Saakashvili thanked the U.S. Secretary of State for her “strong support, not just in words but in action, for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and independence.”
“It’s a great struggle. Sometimes it’s like uphill struggle because it’s against the forces that are trying to undermine us,” he said.
Saakashvili also told the U.S. Secretary of State, that Georgia was “looking forward to seeing you in our city of Batumi in months to come.”