U.S. ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, said that relations between Tbilisi and Tehran were ongoing topic of discussions between the U.S. and Georgia and those discussions were framed in the context of understanding that Iran is Georgia’s neighbor.
Speaking to an audience at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, on June 13 Ambassador Bass said it was “a good thing” that Georgia was offering Iranians by lifting visa requirements the opportunity to travel to Georgia and see what is happening “in neighboring democracy,” but he also said that Washington did not want to see Georgia to become, even unwillingly, a venue where targets of international sanctions would find way to evade those sanctions.
“It is obviously an ongoing topic of discussion between the two [U.S. and Georgian] governments on multiple levels,” Bass said when he was asked to comment on Georgian-Iranian ties.
“I would say it’s framed in the context of understanding that Georgia lives in the South Caucasus, Iran is a neighbor and there needs to be a relationship between the two countries just as it is in any neighborhood and to the extent Georgia offers an opportunity for Iranians to get out of Iran and see what’s happening in the neighborhood and to see what’s happening in neighboring democracy that’s a good thing,” the U.S. ambassador said.
“But by the same token, given the extent to which the Iranians are practiced over time at finding ways to evade sanctions and given our belief that effectiveness of current sanctions regime is an important part of why Iran is back at negotiating table, we obviously don’t want to see a circumstance in which even unwillingly Georgia becomes an avenue for Iranian companies or Iranian individuals who are sanctioned to avoid those sanctions,” he added.