United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has commended Georgian Defence Minister Levan Izoria for Georgia's ongoing commitment to defence reforms and to strengthening the capabilities of the country's armed forces through robust defence spending at 2.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Secretary Mattis hosted Minister Izoria on Monday at the Pentagon to discuss regional security issues and the US-Georgia defence relationship, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement following their meeting.
White said Mattis also expressed his appreciation for Georgia's "steadfast devotion and commitment” to serve alongside US forces in Afghanistan until the mission is complete.
"Your Prime Minister’s affirmation to stand with us in Afghanistan until the last US soldier leaves is a powerful and deeply appreciated signal of our nations’ friendship and strategic partnership", Mattis told Izoria.
Georgia is the largest non-NATO force contributor and per capita contributor to the mission in Afghanistan, and the Georgian Armed Forces serve without caveat alongside US forces, White said.
The pair also reviewed ongoing US security assistance to Georgia's armed forces, including ongoing partnership to enhance combat readiness and institutional capacity via the Georgia Defence Readiness Program.
Mattis also reaffirmed the United States' commitment to continuing defence cooperation with Georgia, including through annual bilateral and multilateral exercises and training.
MoD #IzoriainDC to meet w/ @DeptofDefense 's James Mattis to discuss the issues of deepening cooperation in defense sphere. Within the visit meetings are scheduled w/ Assistant to the Pres for National Security Affairs Herbert #McMaster & Sen. @LindseyGrahamSCpic.twitter.com/4FJ4RnKUgZ— MOD Georgia (@ModGovGe) November 13, 2017
Mattis was the first US official Minister Izoria met with as part of his official visit. Within the visit meetings are also planned with Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), National Security Advisor (NSA) Herbert Raymond McMaster at the White House and the chairman of US Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senator Lindsey Graham at Congress.