Pompeo hails Georgia's NATO aspiration | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

21 August, Wednesday

Pompeo hails Georgia's NATO aspiration

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has praised Georgia's 'leadership role as an aspiring NATO nation' and condemned 'Russia's ongoing occupation' of the South Caucasus country's territory, Central Asia News reports.

'Georgia has fought to maintain its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression, and Russia's unlawful occupation of the Georgian territory, and its failure to adhere to cease-fire obligations,' Pompeo said on June 11 in Washington as he met with visiting Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze.

'Russia's belligerence is just one reason we're proud of our military to support to the Georgia Defense Readiness Program. We are helping train and equip a self-sufficient force that will ensure Georgia's territorial defense,' Pompeo added.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili on June 10 predicted that Tbilisi will regain control over the two regions, saying, 'Gradually, I think, the population in the occupied territories, are understanding that the perspective is not in the north,' that is, with Russia.

In a statement, the State Department said Pompeo and Bakhtadze 'discussed Georgia's partnership with NATO, cooperation on issues of regional security, and reforms necessary for Georgia to ensure the rule of law and fair elections.'

In his comments, Pompeo said that 'Georgia's leadership role as an aspiring NATO ally is just one reason we're so enthusiastic to work together. President [Donald] Trump has called for all nations to do more to resolve global challenges, and Georgia is doing just that in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.'

'Even as we speak, 32 brave Georgian soldiers know that they have given their all while serving alongside Americans [in Afghanistan], and 870 Georgian soldiers serve in support of NATO's mission there,' Pompeo added.

The top U.S. diplomat said the 'prime minister and I also had the chance to discuss Georgia's parliament's responsibility to make sure government agencies act lawfully and deliver what they promise to their citizens.'

Bakhtadze said that Georgia, with 'expanded interoperability with NATO and defense spending -- 2 percent of our GDP,' has all the practical tools to prepare for NATO membership.

He also asserted that Georgia 'is a stable democracy with strong state institutions, with a growing and attractive economy and vibrant civil society.'

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