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U.S. Donates to South Ossetia

The United States has pledged two-million dollars in economic assistance to Georgia's South Ossetia region.

Seventeen countries pledged more than nine million dollars for reconstruction projects at a donor's conference for South Ossetia organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Supported projects will include school rehabilitation, improvements in the irrigation systems, and a business development center. These jobs will enable Georgians and South Ossetians to work together to improve their communities.

South Ossetia was an autonomous region of Georgia during the Soviet era, but declared independence in 1990. In response, Georgia's government revoked South Ossetia's autonomy and declared a state of emergency in the region. In 2004, President Mikhail Saakashvili moved to reintegrate South Ossetia into Georgia. During the summer of 2004, tensions increased and mortar fire was exchanged, killing dozens. A cease-fire was signed in August 2004. Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli has stressed that Georgia would not deviate from its peaceful approach to resolving the conflict and its peace plan endorsed by the O-S-C-E last December.

The donor's conference followed a comprehensive study by the international community to assess economic and social conditions for all inhabitants of Georgia's South Ossetia region – Georgians and Ossetians alike.

Russia announced it would provide three-million Euros in assistance to South Ossetia. However, this direct assistance to the de facto separatist authorities, without coordination with the Georgian government or the O-S-C-E, is in contravention of an agreement signed between Russia and Georgia, and calls into question Russia's commitment to Georgia's territorial integrity.

Thomas Adams, Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. State Department, reaffirmed U.S. support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

President Bush will welcome President Saakashvili to the White House in July. They are expected to discuss how to bring about lasting political solutions in South Ossetia, as well as Abkhazia, another breakaway region within Georgia's borders.

The U.S. will continue to support Georgia's territorial integrity as it pursues democratic and economic reforms. The Rose Revolution, which brought peaceful democratic change to Georgia, was, said President Bush, "a powerful example to people around the world who long for freedom and honest government."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.