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Georgian Defence Minister Meets U.S. Secretary of Defense

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, August 20
Georgian Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli was hosted by the U.S. Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, on August 18 at Pentagon to discuss regional security issues and the U.S.-Georgia defence relationship, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.

Khidasheli, who is on her first trip to the United States in her capacity as the Defence Minister, is accompanied by Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Vakhtang Kapanadze.

During the meeting at the Pentagon, Secretary Carter “commended Minister Khidasheli for Georgia’s ongoing commitment to Afghanistan as the second largest overall troop contributor to the NATO Resolute Support Mission,” the Pentagon readout of the meeting said.

The statement also reads that Carter emphasized that the USA, together with its allies, are supporting Georgia through the NATO-Georgia Commission and the Substantial NATO-Georgia package agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit.

According to the Pentagon, the leaders reviewed the ongoing U.S. security assistance to Georgia's armed forces, including plans for the $20 million in additional funding in 2015 through the European Reassurance Initiative.

Tinatin Khidasheli evaluated the meeting positively. She said that the partnership between Georgia and the US is not only formal, but friendly too.

“More U.S. troops in Georgia, more support to the Georgian Army and to Georgian defence and security as whole is helping us to be ready for all the challenges that exist in our region – that’s the main pledge of this partnership, and every day can bring more progress and results in this regard,” she said.

On August 17, the Georgian Defense Minister met with Deputy Assistance Secretary of Defence for Warrior Care Policy James Rodriguez. The Georgian MoD has recently created a new department which is in charge of overseeing recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of wounded and injured army service members. A total of 274 Georgian soldiers were wounded in Afghanistan in the period between 2010 and late-April, 2015.

In Washington, Khidasheli has also met Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Puneet Talwar.

Khidasheli’s US visit is of great importance to Georgia and it aims to strengthen the country’s relations with the US and seek stronger support.