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11/13/04 - GEORGIA, E-U SUPPORT IRAQ - 2004-11-15

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced that his country will increase its troop contribution to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq to eight-hundred-fifty troops. In making the announcement, Mr. Saakashvili called President George W. Bush a friend of Georgia. "In today's world," he said, "it is impossible to decide one's own security without friends and allies."

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher welcomed Georgia's decision to send additional troops to Iraq:

"It [the deployment] underscores Georgia's commitment to partnership with the people of Iraq and their friends around the world in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and democracy in Iraq. The United States will offer additional training to help Georgia sustain this deployment following an assessment by the U.S.-European command of their needs."

The European Union has also pledged assistance to Iraq. Following a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, E-U officials offered financial support and personnel for the upcoming national elections in Iraq to be held in early 2005. E-U leaders also said they would provide additional funds for a security force to protect United Nations aid workers in Iraq. Once the Iraqi elections are over, the E-U may launch a program aimed at improving Iraq's police, judiciary, and civil administration.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged fellow E-U members to support Iraqi reconstruction. He said, "It is important that we work with the Americans and, of course, with the Iraqi government to bring that stability to Iraq because as we look at our world today, the more we can see how many of the problems come out of the instability and problems of the Middle East. And to have Iraq turn from a repressive failing state after Saddam Hussein to a democracy would have a huge impact on the whole of the Middle East, not just on Iraq itself," said Mr. Blair.

With the support of other nations, the economic, social, and political reconstruction of Iraq will go forward.