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Georgia hopes for the support of the West

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, April 15
The future of Georgian-American relations was discussed at a meeting between Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on the night of April 14 (Tbilisi time), after The Messenger went to press. This meeting formed part of Vashadze’s official visit to the USA.

Prior to the meeting several interested parties expressed their hopes for its outcome. “The parties are going to define aspects of the strategic partnership between the USA and Georgia,” stated Ambassador of Georgia to the US Batu Kutelia. “They will discuss the new foreign policy course of President Obama and the elements of this which concern Georgia. Primarily this means the security and economy of Georgia,” he added, speaking to Georgian journalists on Tuesday.

Robert Wood, spokesperson for the State Department, noted that the Clinton-Vashadze meeting would be dedicated to the discussion of the “situation in Georgia and its bordering regions as well as the mutual resolution of important issues.”

American Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft called this meeting “very important.” “Under the new administration the US continues to help Georgia. The USA and Georgia remain strategic partners and work on the issues of the Strategic Partnership Charter, signed at the beginning of 2009, continues. I hope that relations between the two countries will become even deeper,” stated the Ambassador, adding that the meeting was “a good chance for the Foreign Minister of Georgia and the US Secretary of State to meet each other and discuss several problematic issues. They have already had the possibility to meet and talk about the conflicts and the Geneva negotiations in Brussels.”

The Clinton-Vashadze meeting precedes the UN Security Council session on April 16 which will decide on the prolongation of the UN Mission in Georgia’s mandate. The current mandate is valid only until June 15. The Georgian side and the international community have several times underlined the importance of the prolongation of this mandate, which allows observers from the UN to monitor the situation in the Georgian breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

During his visit Vashadze will also meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and discuss the UN's future work in Georgia. He will also meet UN Deputy Secretary General Linn Pasco and the Permanent UN Representatives of France, Turkey, the UK, China, the US and Austria.

Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, stated that it’s “very important for Georgia” for Vashadze and Clinton to have a “conversation on the principal issues – primarily those connected with security in the occupied areas [regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia]. It is also important for the US to keep the pressure on Russia in order to make Moscow fulfill the responsibilities it previously took on.”

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Georgian separatist regions whose ‘independence’ was recognized on August 26 2008 by the Russian Government. Russian subsequently announced plans to deploy several thousand soldiers on these territories and create army, navy and air force bases there. Georgia has declared that these actions amount to the “occupation of the country” and stated that Russia has failed to fulfill the terms of the ceasefire agreement it signed after the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war, which obliges Moscow withdraw its troops from these areas.