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US highlights Georgia’s “remarkable progress” in defence reforms

13 Sep 2017 - 11:52:00

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Agenda.ge,13 Sep 2017 - 11:52, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United States (US) acknowledges Georgia’s role as a strategic partner in the region, and as a steadfast partner promoting stability and security around the globe.

Today, the US Department of State released a statement following the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission Defense and Security Cooperation Working Group meeting in Washington, DC on September 8.

According to the statement, the parties discussed the prioritisation of Georgia’s defence budget and US assistance to help fill critical capability gaps, and strike a balance between global deployments and territorial defence.

The sides also discussed the security environment in the occupied territories of Georgia.

The Georgian side updated the working group participants on the threats and challenges on the ground. The US stressed "unwavering support” for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

The US reiterated calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions, in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement. It expressed strong concern about ongoing so-called "borderisation” and closure of crossing points. The US also reiterated its support for bringing the perpetrator of the May 2016 killing of Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria to justice.

The US expressed appreciation for Georgia’s significant contributions to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. The sides honored the significant sacrifices of fallen and wounded Georgians and Americans, notably Sergeant Mdinari Bebiashvili who was killed in Afghanistan in August.

Each side confirmed its commitment to the full implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which advances Georgian preparation for NATO membership; and affirmed the additional cooperation activities discussed in Brussels to prepare Georgia for membership. The sides expressed commitment to strengthening Black Sea security cooperation, and recognised Georgia’s role as a special partner in the region.

The parties agreed that Georgia’s best security asset is its continued pursuit of democratic and economic reforms. The sides noted Georgia’s progress in this regard, particularly highlighting the "remarkable progress” in defence reforms, "which has been exceptional over the past year”. The United States expressed its continued support for Georgia in this effort.

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