US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Georgia earlier today, on what Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said was ‘a historic visit.’
FM Zalkaliani stated last week that the visit ‘reaffirms America’s strong support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.’
Wheels down in Georgia. The United States is committed to helping Georgia build its defense capacity and advance its Euro-Atlantic integration, and I’m looking forward to my meetings here. pic.twitter.com/TJy25tfn90— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) October 18, 2021
Georgian Defence Minister Juansher Burchuladze and US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan welcomed Austin at Tbilisi International Airport.
Austin and Burchuladze are scheduled to hold a face-to-face meeting later today and then to speak in a press conference.
An agreement will be signed between the Georgian Defence Ministry and the US Department of Defence which aims to strengthen Georgia's defense and containment capabilities,” the Georgian Defence Ministry said.
Gamorjoba! @SecDef Austin arrived in Tbilisi this morning, and is set for meetings with the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, as well as a visit with Georgian and American troops, reiterating America’s commitment to Georgia as a strong partner in security and defense. pic.twitter.com/eGFY3yoVv8— U.S. Embassy Tbilisi (@usingeo) October 18, 2021
Austin is also scheduled to meet with Georgia PM Irakli Garibashvili and attend US-Georgia joint exercises.
The visit of the US Secretary of Defence, from a major strategic partner state, reaffirms special ties between Georgia and America,” the ministry noted.
The US Department of Defence also stated on the weekend that the visit ‘will reaffirm the US’ support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and underscore the importance of the US-Georgia strategic partnership in addressing regional and global security challenges.’
Wheels up, en route to Europe. We steadfastly support our European Allies and partners, and I look forward to meeting with my counterparts and other senior officials to reinforce the United States’ commitment to a safe, stable, and prosperous Europe. pic.twitter.com/JPePy4r5WF— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) October 17, 2021
Degnan said earlier today that this visit is a ‘sign of the continued close cooperation between the United States and Georgia.’
Our security cooperation continues. It is one of the topics we will discuss during the meetings later today-what more the United States and Georgia can do together to increase Georgia’s security and stability. So, we are thrilled to have Secretary Austin here, and we look forward to a very full and productive day,” Degnan said.
Austin is scheduled to visit Georgia, Romania, Ukraine and Brussels during his European tour.