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US Defense Secretary Praises Georgia’s Military Reforms

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, November 15
(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis praised Georgia’s reforms while meeting Defense Minister Levan Izoria at the Pentagon on Monday.

Mattis welcomed Izoria and his officials to discuss ways to strengthen the defense cooperation between the two countries and methods to tackle regional security issues.

“The US supports Georgia's ongoing commitment to defense reforms and to strengthening the capabilities of the country's armed forces through robust defense spending at 2.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product,” Georgia’s Ministry of Defense quoted Mattis as saying.

Mattis expressed deep gratitude for Tbilisi's contribution to combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, noting that Georgia is a major contributor in Afghanistan with 871 military servicemen represented in Afghanistan.

Mattis also reiterated the United States' commitment to continue robust defense cooperation with Georgia through annual bilateral and multilateral military exercises and echoed US Vice-President Mike Pence’s remarks from August when he declared that “the US stands next to Georgia.”

"This promise is strengthened by the common values of our countries - sovereignty, territorial integrity and respect for the international order, which is based on the rules," said Mattis.

Izoria reiterated Georgia’s readiness to continue participating in US-backed peacekeeping missions and personally thanked Mattis for Washington’s political and practical support of Georgia.

He later added that the Georgian government is grateful for the US military support to Georgia's Defense Preparedness Program, which is set to start in 2018 and aimed at increasing the country's sustainability and military capabilities.

During his Washington trip, Izoria will also meet with Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster and Senator Lindsey Graham, the powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.