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24 Jul, 2009 16:04

United States says it will not re-arm Georgia

The US will not supply heavy weaponry to Georgia or deploy its monitors there, according to the American ambassador to Russia John Beyrle.

“Surely, we are maintaining and will maintain military cooperation with Georgia, but it does not involve supplies of heavy military equipment,” Beyrle said on Echo Moskvy radio on Friday, as quoted by Interfax.

The remarks have been made in the wake of US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Biden pledged support to the Caucasus country and pushed for NATO membership. However, on more cautious lines, he urged Georgia not to use the military option to regain its former territories.

Earlier, there were reports from Washington suggesting the Georgian leader had asked Biden for advanced weaponry and military aid. However, the anonymous top US official later backtracked on the statement.

According to John Beyrle, the US military cooperation with Georgia involves primarily the training of the Georgian army to take part in the joint mission in Afghanistan.

“By the way, Russia is also helping and supporting us there,” he said to Echo Moskvy.

Russia, in turn, is warning against new attempts to re-arm Georgia, and to discourage it from using force in settling its territorial issues.

Speaking on Friday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said some NATO countries and also the bloc's current Secretary General have learnt the lesson of last year’s armed conflict in South Ossetia.

“I start from the fact that everyone who sold the Saakashvili regime the weapons that were used in last year’s conflict, have drawn the right conclusions,” Lavrov said Friday, speaking at a press conference in Bangkok.

“Many countries have reached such conclusions and we know that. As for the states that are still talking about the need to resume selling weapons to Georgia, I believe they are making a mistake. Concerning NATO, we think that the promise that Georgia will become a NATO member, which was voice at the NATO summit in April 2008, was one of the factors that let Saakashvili to start his reckless venture,” Russian Foreign Minister concluded.

Russia to introduce sanctions

Russia will introduce sanctions against foreign companies if they sell weapons to Georgia, said Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin on Friday.

“A presidential decree has been issued stating that Russia will introduce sanctions against foreign companies that continue to militarize Georgia,” Rogozin said in an interview with Echo Moskvy.

“If it is proven that a producer, no matter where it is situated – in the Arctic, the Antarctic or anywhere in America, is involved in offensive armament supply, it will be subject to the decree,” Russia’s envoy to NATO explained.

Rogozin also noted that Russia is also trying to use diplomatic means in dealing with the issue, having stated that both the country’s Foreign Ministry and its special services know exactly “who supplies what”.

US monitors

The US Ambassador to Russia also denied that the United States is planning to send its monitors to Georgia's border with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Beyrle said that, as far as he was aware, Washington had received no request to that effect.

Earlier, the South Ossetian government claimed US monitors were to be posted on territories in Georgia along the South Ossetian and Abkhaz borders.

The ambassador argued that having the current EU mission in the region is not enough to ensure local stability, Interfax reports. In his opinion, the OSCE and the UN should resume their presence there by sending in new missions.

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