The ambassador of the USA to Georgia, Ian Kelly, has responded to the statement of the Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, who said that Islamic State fighters use the Pankisi Gorge as a training ground.
US Ambassador to Georgia: Georgia and USA oppose terrorism together
By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 29
According to the ambassador, he trusts the words of the Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who stated that there is no terrorist threat in the Pankisi Gorge.
Kelly also spoke about the restoration of the Georgia-Russia diplomatic relationship, and stated that he supports the pragmatic politics of the Georgian side.
“I want to note that the USA and Georgia oppose terrorism together. I listened to Mr. Lavrov’s statements and I want to repeat Georgian PM’s words that the Georgian government has the situation in Pankisi Gorge under control,” Kelly stated.
The ambassador believes that the issue about the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is solely due to the Georgian government’s efforts.
“We welcome the pragmatic attitude and use of all means for dialogue between the countries, especially the Geneva Talksand the format of the Abashidze-Karasin talks. We support Georgia in this direction,” underlined the ambassador.
It should be noted that on January 26, the Russian top diplomat made the corresponding statement at an annual press conference.
"The terrorist threat still exists in the Pankisi Gorge. It is reported that Islamic State members use the remote area for training, recuperation and to gather supplies,” he stressed.
According to him, the situation in the Gorge was one of the reasons why Russia tightened its visa regime with Georgia.
Georgian PM Kvirikashvili commented on Lavrov’s statement, which concerned the absence of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia, as well as the Pankisi Gorge.
"The restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia has important preconditions, the most of which is the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. As for positive statements, I want to say that the facilitation of visa movement was a very positive decision," said Kvirikashvili.
When talking about the issue of Pankisi Gorge, Kvirikashvili said the Georgian government has full control over the regions under its jurisdiction.
“A few people from the Gorge went to Syria to fight for the Islamic State, though strict control is imposed on their entry back to the country. I can directly say that there is no terrorist threat in the Pankisi Gorge at this time,” said the PM.