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Donald Rumsfeld's Visit to Georgia
/ 16 Dec.'01 / 18:11

"We Cooperate Fully with Respect to the Probe of Terrorism"

"My visit to Georgia is that the United States value highly the relationships with this country" - stated Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense after meeting with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.

 

"We had complete conformity on each major issue. Our conversation was held in the atmosphere of mutual understanding" - stated Shevardnadze.

Rumsfeld arrived to Georgia from Yerevan on December 15. Visit to Georgia was the part of the US Defense Secretary's five-day working trip to the Southern Caucasus states and Uzbekistan.

Donald Rumsfeld also met his Georgian counterpart David Tevzadze, Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili and Speaker of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze.

The sides discussed issues of military cooperation between the two countries as well as the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan.

At the meeting with President Shevardnadze the Defense Secretary tackled the issue of bombing of Georgian territory by Russian planes. As Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili said, "It would be unnatural to not to discuss this issue with Mr. Rumsfeld". However, none of the officials has unveiled recommendations given by Donald Rumsfeld to the Georgian authorities.

Right after the bombing, on November 27 the United States declared support to Georgia and condemned actions of the Russian side.

Donald Rumsfeld expressed gratitude to the Georgian President for Georgia's position regarding the anti-terrorist operations. "Georgia made a courageous and a good choice in this respect. We cooperate fully with respect to the probe of terrorism" - stated the Defense Secretary.

This statement by Donald Rumsfeld has a special significance in light of Russia's accusations that Georgia is harboring Chechen fighters and mercenaries.

President Shevardnadze admitted that Georgia has serious problems with presence of terrorist groups on its territory. "I myself experienced their attacks two times already," said Shevardnadze.  However, he did not clarify exactly which groups he meant.

Future prospects of military assistance to Georgia by the United States were the main topic of negotiations. "The United States extends a vital assistance to build the modern Georgian army. This is a long-term cooperation program," says Shevardnadze.

Donald Rumsfeld agrees to this statement. "We've talked about significance of military cooperation. Furthers steps in this direction are very important," he said.

Military cooperation of the two states started four years ago with training of Georgian servicemen and developed into the assistance with military equipment.

Transfer of transport helicopters to Georgia was the most important assistance. On October 23, 2001 the United State officially transferred to the Georgian side 6 Huey UH-1H helicopters. The American side will prepare the pilots for these machines as well.

At the same period team of American exerts stated developing of a new assistance program. The team, headed by Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Otar Shalikashvili, implemented first stage of activities in October.

Technical assistance program for Georgian border guard units is scheduled for year 2002. The program considers development of a system of control of the whole perimeter of the Georgian State border.

Total amount of military assistance to Georgia by the United States reached 25 million USD. Rumsfeld's visit to Georgia and statements of the Georgian officials after meetings with the Defense Secretary shows that this figure would increase in future.

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