Georgia is considering various options of how to contribute to U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition, the Ministry of Defense said in response to a report that Tbilisi has offered to the U.S. to host training center for anti-IS fighters.
None of the options under consideration entails deploying Georgian troops on the ground, the MoD said.
The statement was released few hours after Foreign Policy’s The Cable reported citing unnamed U.S. administration official that Georgia has offered to host a training center for the Syrian rebels as a part of its contribution to the anti-IS coalition.
Georgian Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze told Foreign Policy that the training center was “something we offered, but is still under consideration.” He said that it could host anti-IS fighters from multiple countries, not just Syria.
The Georgian MoD said in its statement that “as the strategic partner of the United States and one of the most NATO interoperable countries, Georgia is considering the ways how to contribute to the goals of anti-ISIS coalition in fight against terrorism.”
“Alongside the international partners and the coalition members, different ways are under discussion to neutralize the terrorist threats endangering peace and security in the region and its democratic development,” the MoD said.
“None of the options discussed together with the allied countries envisage deployment of the Georgian army units in the war zone. A final decision will be reached at the highest political level,” the Georgian MoD said.
Georgia’s possible role in coalition to fight Islamic State was one of the issues discussed when U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited Tbilisi earlier this month.
“Trainings, exercises – these are the things that come to our mind,” Georgian Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, said when asked after talks with Hagel how Georgia can contribute to anti-IS coalition.
Addressing UN Security Council meeting on Iraq on September 19, Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze reiterated Georgia’s readiness to contribute.
“Georgia’s valuable experience from combat missions, as well as successful defense transformation can be effectively used to enhance capabilities of Iraqi and other security forces as they are taking fight against the ISIL [Islamic State] terrorist,” the Georgian Foreign Minister said.
“We look forward to working with the United States and other coalition partners in coming days and weeks to identify areas where Georgia contribution can provide added value,” she added.