There is “undiminished interest” from Georgian government in strong relations with the United States and in continued desire for Euro-Atlantic integration, the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi said in a statement on June 21.
The statement was made in response to The Wall Street Journal’s article “As Sanctions Bite, Iranians Invest Big in Georgia”; the article provides details about Iranian nationals’ recent investment activities in Georgia, among them investments in private airline FlyGeorgia and JSC InvestBank.
According to the article, “the surging Iranian presence in Georgia has startled the Obama administration because of deep U.S.-Georgia ties… But when it comes to Iran, Georgia, which recently elected a prime minister [Ivanishvili] who takes a less pro-American stance than [President] Mr. Saakashvili, seeks to forge an independent line, its officials said.”
Apparently referring to this part of the story, the U.S. embassy said in its statement: “Contrary to certain statements in the article, we see undiminished interest on the part of Georgia's government in strong relations with the United States, and a continued strong desire for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.”
“Similarly, U.S. concerns involving Iran sanctions evasion here have grown in recent years, and pre-date the current Georgian government,” the U.S. embassy said.
It also said that the U.S. government “is focused intently on shutting down any Iranian attempts to evade sanctions, including through possible business connections in Georgia.”
“We are working closely with the Georgians on this issue,” the embassy statement reads.
In December, 2012 the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes visited Tbilisi and discussed with the Georgian authorities implementation of sanctions against Iran with whom Georgia has visa-free travel rules since January, 2011.