US promises to keep up military ties with Georgia
The United States on Wednesday promised to keep up military cooperation with Georgia, a former Soviet state that views the escalating crisis in Ukraine with deep concern.
During a meeting with his Georgian counterpart Irakli Alasania, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "reaffirmed the importance of the US partnership with Georgia, and pledged to continue our strong defense cooperation," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
Hagel encouraged the Georgian government to continue with defense reforms and efforts to enable its forces to operate jointly with NATO, he said in a statement.
Events in Ukraine have alarmed Georgia, a pro-Western country that fought a brief war with Russia in 2008.
Moscow has several thousand troops stationed in the country's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it recognizes as independent states.
In discussions on Ukraine, the two defense chiefs "reviewed the efforts by allies and partners in the region to reinforce our international commitments and to continue to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Moscow," Hagel said.
French President Francois Hollande and British Foreign Secretary William Hague have announced plans to travel to Tbilisi in coming days, representing a symbolic show of support for Georgia.
© 2014 AFP