Georgian Defense Minister, Bacho Akhalaia, met with U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, in Brussels on February 2 on a sideline of a meeting of defense ministers from NATO members and 20 partner states, the Georgian Ministry of Defense said.
It said in a statement, that the meeting was “a follow up of the agreement reached at the meeting between President Saakashvili and President Obama at the White House” on January 30.
The U.S. has “expressed its readiness to extend assistance with regard to enhancing Georgia’s defense capabilities which implies new levels of cooperation, deepening existing relations in the key areas and implementation of specific training and assistance programs,” the Georgian MoD said.
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Defense Minister Akhalaia said, that from now on the defense cooperation with the U.S. would focus not only on training of the Georgian troops for the Afghan deployment, but also on enhancing and improving Georgia’s "self-defense capabilities.”
“We are talking about an absolutely new phase of relations, which means that if until now we were focused on military trainings and military assistance, which was basically directed to our units participating in the ISAF operation, from now on, we will have an opportunity to think about those types of assistance, which will be focused on the development of entire armed forces that will ultimately contribute to strengthening of the country’s self-defense capabilities,” Akhalaia said.
The Georgian MoD said, that consultations would continue to discuss “specific fields of cooperation in details.”