U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, discussed Georgia-Russia WTO talks, planned increase of Georgian troops in Afghanistan and upcoming elections in Georgia during a 25-minute meeting with Georgian counterpart Grigol Vashadze and Secretary of Georgian National Security Council Giga Bokeria on a sideline of UN General Assembly in New York on September 26, a senior U.S. State Department official said.
WTO Talks with Russia
The State Department official, who spoke on background, said that “the bulk” of the meeting was spent on discussing the Swiss-mediated talks between Georgia and Russia on Moscow’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.
“As she did with Foreign Minister Lavrov last week, Secretary urged Foreign Minister Vashadze to make the most of the Swiss mediation proposal and to try to make progress to close the gaps when the delegations meet in the next week and a half,” the official said.
Georgia to Increase Troops in Afghanistan to 1,700
Georgia plans to send next year an additional battalion to Afghanistan on top of about 950 troops, which the country has already contributed to the NATO-led operations with most of them stationed in Helmand province.
“Georgia is on its way to becoming the largest non-NATO troop contributor,” the U.S. Department of State official said. “The Secretary thanked Foreign Minister Vashadze and Georgia for the recent commitment of an extra battalion of Georgian troops for Afghanistan, which will bring the Georgian total to 1,700.”
“They also talked at some length about medical care and support that the U.S. is providing for Georgian soldiers wounded in combat in Afghanistan and U.S. military support for Georgian forces in Afghanistan,” the official said.
Pledge to Make ‘Qualitative Leap Forward’ in Elections
The third and final issue, the State Department official said, was 2012 and 2013 parliamentary and presidential elections in Georgia with Secretary Clinton stressing the importance of free, fair and transparent elections.
The official said that during the meeting both the Georgian Foreign Minister and Secretary of National Security Council “stressed that Georgia intends to make a qualitative leap forward in the quality of its elections.”
The both thanked the U.S. for the help it provides through International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute in improving Georgia’s electoral process the official said.