Photo: Georgian PM's office
U.S. President Barack Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili at the White House on February 24.
The White House said in a readout of the meeting that President Obama and Vice President Biden both congratulated for Georgia’s “success in completing the country’s first peaceful, democratic transition of power, and urged the Prime Minister to continue working with all of Georgia’s leaders and with civil society to advance the rule of law and to consolidate Georgia’s significant democratic achievements.”
“The President and Prime Minister further discussed opportunities for strengthening U.S.-Georgia strategic cooperation, including on increasing trade and investment ties between our two economies.”
“The President and Vice President also reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. They also assured the Prime Minister that the Georgian people had the United States’ unwavering support as they pursue their Euro-Atlantic aspirations and pledged continued U.S. assistance to help the new Georgian government as it pursues political, economic, and defense reforms,” the White House said.
It said that the President and the Vice President thanked Georgia for being “a valued friend and reliable partner in supporting our most challenging regional and global priorities.”
“In doing so, the President expressed the United States’ deep appreciation for Georgia’s significant contributions to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and honored the sacrifices made by Georgian soldiers and their families,” the White House said.
President Obama joined the meeting for about 20 minutes, according to a senior administration official.
PM Garibashvili said after the meeting “Georgia is moving actually to a new stage of relations with the United States.”
“Our government has received full support from the U.S. President and the Vice President. They have reiterated U.S. support to Georgia,” Garibashvili said.
“It was a very positive and fruitful meeting. I want to stress that the United States is the most important, strategic partner for Georgia and we will maximally contribute deepening and strengthening of these relationships,” the Georgian PM said and also added that the U.S. reiterated readiness to “deepen trade and economic” ties with Georgia.
Meeting with the U.S. President was not announced beforehand; Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said that the meeting was pre-planned but not made public in advance upon request from the White House. “Of course we knew it in advance, but it was a request from the White House not to pre-announce details of scheduled meetings,” she said.
Panjikidze, who was present at the meeting, said President Obama reaffirmed that “Georgia has full support, the Georgian government has full support” of the United States. She told Imedi TV that the U.S. President reiterated support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and its European and Euro-Atlantic integration and noted “importance of Georgia’s constructive steps” towards Russia.
Georgian State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili, Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani and Georgian ambassador in the U.S., Archil Gegeshidze, were among the Georgian officials present at the meeting in the Roosevelt Room of White House. U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, were also present.
The Georgian PM’s office said in a readout of the meeting with the U.S. Vice President, that “the U.S.-Georgian strategic partnership, Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic perspective, as well as reforms carried out by the Georgian authorities were the main topics of the meeting.”
“The Georgian PM stressed on installation of barbed wire fences [by the Russian troops] across the occupation line of Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia and thanked the United States for its unambiguous position on this issue.”
“PM Garibashvili noted that the [Georgian] authorities appreciate highly U.S. condemnation of building dividing lines by the occupying Russian troops and expressed hope that the U.S. support in this respect will continue in the future as well,” the Georgian PM’s office said.
“The Prime Minister noted that process of Georgia’s NATO integration is dynamic like never before.”
“During the meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, the Prime Minister noted that Georgia will sign the Association Agreement with the European Union before autumn, 2014 and the Georgian government welcomes readiness of the United States to support Georgia in implementing commitments under the agreement.”
“Prime Minister Garibashvili has urged the Vice President to continue supporting further improvement of the U.S-Georgian relations because it is of vital importance for Georgia taking in the view upcoming [local] elections, signature of the Association Agreement with the EU and NATO summit [in Wales in September],” PM’s office said.
Also on February 24, the Georgian PM met separately with Republican Senators Roy Blunt and Jeff Sessions, as well as Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Carl Levin.