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9 Jul, 2008 12:01

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. backs Georgia

The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has assured Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili of the support of the U.S. in resolving the country’s tensions with its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Condoleezza Rice went to Georgia to carry out negotiations with Mikhail Saakashvili. At midday, after the news-conference, she left for Sofia, Bulgaria.

Condoleezza Rise made a strong affirmation of American support for Georgia’s territorial integrity.
“It is extremely important that the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia be resolved on the basis of principles that respect the territorial integrity of Georgia,” the U.S. Secretary of State said. She said the opposing sides must settle the dispute peacefully.

Condoleezza Rice promised that the U.S. would contribute to the resolution of the tensions. “Though a friendly process we will do everything that we can to help resolve these conflicts,” she said.

In his turn, Mikhail Saakashvili has thanked the U.S. for support. “We are grateful to the United States for its support to the territorial integrity of Georgia. Things would have been more difficult without this support,” he said.

The leader of the Georgian breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, said the conflict between the region and Georgia will be even harder after the Rice’s announcement.

“I have no doubts that the U.S. position on the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts is only letting Georgia off the leash and will lead to further tensions over Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he said.

On Wednesday Russia and Georgia accused each other of escalating tension.

Iosif Diskin from the Moscow-based National Strategy Institute said the current tension is partly caused by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's political needs. He thinks that as the economy of the country is weak, and the opposition claims the president is “unable to solve the problem of the country’s sovereignty”, Saakashvili “wants to report at least some success and is concentrating on bringing the breakaway republics back. ”

The talks between the U.S. Secretary of State and the representatives of the Georgian government also took in the country’s integration into NATO, a move which was blocked last year. Condoleezza Rice expressed support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic affiliation – namely NATO affiliation.