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4 Sep, 2008 18:02

Cheney: U.S. supports Georgia's NATO bid

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Georgia's capital Tbilisi on Thursday and is now in Ukraine. The visit comes as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said Washington will donate more than $US 1 billion.

At the start of his visit Cheney said that the U.S. has a deep and unbending interest in the region.

Cheney has again confirmed that the U.S. would support Georgia's efforts to join NATO.

He said that Russia was the “aggressor” in the recent South Ossetian war. His comments were not a surprise – he is one of the harshest critics of Moscow in the U.S. administration.

The Vice President also spoke about the promised $1 billion U.S. aid package to Georgia.

Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday said the cash would meet “Georgia's pressing humanitarian needs and facilitate its economic reconstruction.”

She added that the spending would be over several years, but would“begin now under President Bush and we believe strongly will endure during the next U.S. administration.”
“These funds will support reconstruction, humanitarian needs, the resettlement of displaced persons and other vital priorities. President Bush has also directed a range of American government agencies to give additional support to Georgia's economy by promoting greater economic trade and investment in this country,” said Cheney at a news conference with President Sakkashvili on Wednesday.

A major concern to Moscow is that a large part of the weaponry used by Georgian troops was provided by the United States. It says that for several years the United States has been equipping and arming Georgian forces.

Recent American humanitarian aid packages sent to Georgia have raised speculation about clandestine arms shipments as they were delivered in locked containers and officials would not reveal their contents.

Meanwhile, many Americans are calling into question America's responsibility to Georgia, arguing that the U.S. government should take care of the economic situation at home first and that Georgia should solve its own problems and not rely on foreign aid.

Washington has already provided about $US 30 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Georgia since early August.

The vice president of the U.S. Defense and Foreign Policy studies, Ted Carpenter, says that Washington’s political involvement in Georgia could “poison” relations with Russia.

“I worry that the Bush administration is flirting with deeper involvement not only in Georgia, but in terms of trying to hem in Russia with an assortment of other allies and clients. And this could really poison the relationship between Washington and Moscow. No rational person in either country should want a second Cold War,” he said.