US Defence Secretary meets Georgian Defence Minister

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, second on right. Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo, 08 May 2014 - 11:23, Tbilisi,Georgia

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Georgia’s Defense Minister Irakli Alasania at the Pentagon on May 7.

The United States promised to continue military cooperation with Georgia and both countries viewed the escalating crisis in Ukraine with deep concern, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement after the meeting.

During his discussion with Alasania, Defense Secretary Hagel "reaffirmed the importance of the US partnership with Georgia and pledged to continue our strong defense cooperation," the spokesperson said.

Hagel encouraged the Georgian Government to continue the defence reforms and efforts to enable its forces to operate jointly with NATO.

The two leaders also discussed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The situation in Ukraine alarmed Georgia, a pro-Western country that fought a brief war with Russia in 2008.

"They reviewed the efforts by allies and partners in the region to reinforce our international commitments and to continue to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Moscow,” Kirby said.

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary William Hague arrived in Tbilisi last night. His visit represented a symbolic show of support for Georgia. While here Hague is scheduled to attend high-level meetings with Georgian authorities.