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Georgian minister says no conditions now for restoring defense cooperation with Russia

August 22, 2013, 6:55 UTC+3

Georgia is prepared to maintain this cooperation in spite of the heavy legacy of the war of August 2008, Alasania said

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WASHINGTON, August 22 (Itar-Tass) - Georgian government would like to resume defense cooperation with Russia but it thinks that conditions for it have not been set up yet, Defense Minister Irakly Alasiania, who is visiting Washington, said Wednesday.

He said it addressing experts at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Georgia is open for defense cooperation with Russia but it is too premature now ponder it, Alasania said as he answered a question from Itar-Tass.

At this moment, Tbilisi and Moscow are engaging only antiterrorist cooperation, which is maintained by their Interior agencies. One of the purposes of it is to ensure security of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Georgia is prepared to maintain this cooperation in spite of the heavy legacy of the war of August 2008, Alasania said.

The government in Tbilisi does not have any illusions as regards the prospects for a change of Russia’s position on the problem of Georgia’s territorial integrity or plans to join NATO and still it is ready to restore political and trade relations with Moscow.

He mentioned the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two former regions of Georgia that gained independence in August 2008, saying Georgia does not see any immediate threats that might bring up an escalation of the conflict in the region although the situation around the one-sided demarcation of the South Ossetian-Georgian border is complicated enough.

At any rate, Tbilisi will not be seeking to resolve the problems of its relationship with the two republics through the use of military force, Alasania said. He recalled that Georgia hopes to regain control over both Abkhazia and South Ossetia by way of their gradual economic reintegration, including joint infrastructure projects.

He said that relations between Georgia and Russia and the situation in South Caucasus had been examined at his talks with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. They also reviewed the participation of the Georgian military in the U.S.-led international peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan.

Hagel promised U.S. assistance to Georgia in a range of areas like the training of military cadres, the ramification of infrastructure and improvement of logistics.

Alasania said on his part that relations between Georgia and the U.S. are moving gradually towards strategic partnership.

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