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The United States Secretary of Defense visited Georgia

Friday, September 12
The United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrived in Georgia for two-day official visit. Georgian Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania hosted his US counterpart. An official welcome ceremony was held in the Ministry of Defense. The MoD military brass band performed Georgian and American state anthems. After finishing an official reception, bilateral meeting was held between Minister Irakli Alasania and Secretary Chuck Hagel. Chief of the General Staff of GAF Major-General Vakhtang Kapanadze, Deputy Defense Minister Mikheil Darchiashvili, DoD high-ranking officials, the United States Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Georgia Mr. Richard Norland and other officials attended the meeting as well.Bilateral Defense cooperation and the future prospects between the United State and Georgia were discussed during the meeting. The US Secretary of Defense reiterated importance of the US -Georgia partnership and expressed willingness to continue enhanced cooperation with Georgia in the defense area. The sides draw a special attention to the significance of the substantial package adopted by Georgia at the NATO Wales Summit and discussed implementation of the mechanisms set out in the package that will lead to enhancing Georgia`s security and self-defense capabilities. Secretary Chuck Hagel gave a positive appreciation of the package and pledged support in its implementation.One of the key topics of discussion was Ukrainian crisis and challenges to regional security environment. The Georgian side condemned Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. The sides focused on the NATO-led international mission in Afghanistan too. Minister Alasania reaffirmed the willingness of the country to participate in the NATO Resolute Support mission from 2015. The US Defense Secretary expressed gratitude to Minister for the contribution the Georgian troops are providing to the ISAF mission. Georgian Minister of Defense, in his turn, underscored the United States` role in treatment and rehabilitation of the wounded Georgian military, as well as the US support for developing rehabilitation capabilities in Georgia. Following the meeting the Minister of Defense of Georgia and the US Secretary of Defense held a joint briefing for the media representatives.In the framework of an official visit to Georgia, Pentagon Chief held meetings with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili and President Giorgi Margvelashvili. He also went to see the memorial of heroes who had fallen in the fight for the unity and territorial integrity of Georgia. Secretary Chuck Hagel held a minute of silence to pay tribute to the memory of the Georgian heroes and those ones who died in action in international missions and laid wreath on the memorial. The US Defense Chief also talked with the military servicemen who had been wounded in 2008 August War and in international missions.U.S. Secretary of Defense visited National Training Center “Krtsanisi” as well. Georgian Defence Minister introduced his U.S. counterpart to the soldiers and expressed gratitude to Chuck Hagel for visiting Georgia: “We are especially proud that our guest - United States Secretary of Defense was a military man himself and was wounded in a combat operation. I'd like again to warmly welcome the Secretary of Defense of United States and would like to reiterate that he should be feeling himself as he is at home being here in Georgia”.

U.S. Secretary of Defense delivered speech to the Georgian military and U.S. Marines. He thanked the Georgian people for their contributions and sacrifices over the last decade. While addressing Chuck Hagel emphasized three main priorities for the U.S. as a state: “The primary priorities that President Obama places on our country, I place on Department of Defense are these: First - people, every institution is only as good as people – to take care of your people capabilities. Second – we can ask our marines and Georgian Soldiers to go and come back without capabilities at the edge that you must have. Third – an enhancement and an enlargement and focus on partner building, partner capability building. I know Georgian friends share the same priorities – people, capabilities and partners. I believe if there was every time in the world that partnership is going to be very important. Important not just for the threats we face today but future unknown threats. That is importance of today’s partnerships”.Following his speech, U.S. Secretary of Defense answered the questions asked by Georgian and U.S. marines and presented the Georgian and U.S. military with the coins of U.S. Secretary of Defense.