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U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg recently welcomed Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze to the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission. The meeting addressed issues including economic cooperation, defense and security, strengthening democracy, and people-to-people exchanges.
“We strongly support Georgia’s economic and political reforms,” said Mr. Steinberg, “and are pleased to note that. . . we’ve now completed our commitment to provide $1 billion in assistance to Georgia.” U.S. aid is helping to reduce Georgia’s vulnerabilities to internal instability, and external economic and political pressure, by assisting in the resettlement of displaced persons, supporting core infrastructure, including energy and transportation, investments, restoring border security and law enforcement capabilities, and strengthening democratic institutions and processes, and the rule of law.
The U.S. reaffirmed its strong support for Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity. “We will continue to support Georgia’s military professionalization,” said Deputy Secretary Steinberg, “and to help Georgia as it contributes to coalition operations and undertakes the reforms that will be required to achieve NATO membership.” Georgia has made valuable contributions in the past to operations in Iraq, said Mr. Steinberg, and the U.S. is grateful for Georgia’s decision to do so again in Afghanistan.
The United States will continue to work with its international partners to improve the security and the humanitarian situation throughout Georgia. At the same time, the U.S. will maintain solidarity with the international community in refusing to recognize the independence of the separatist regions of Georgia. In recent testimony before Congress, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Philip Gordon, said the U.S. “regret[s] that Russia blocked the extension of the OSCE and U.N. missions in Georgia.”
The U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership opens a new chapter in bilateral relations. As Mr. Steinberg stated at the conclusion of the inaugural meeting, America is committed to “working together on helping to develop economic prosperity in Georgia, helping to deepen democracy and political reforms, and helping to assure that Georgia can sustain its sovereignty and territorial integrity.