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Defense Minister: 'New Level of Defense Cooperation with U.S. has Many Elements'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Feb.'12 / 23:24

Georgia's Defense Minister, Bacho Akhalaia, was reluctant to discuss details of, what the Georgian officials call, "new phase" or "new level" of defense cooperation with the U.S., but said making emphasis only on issues related to arms sale would be underestimation of the "large-scale new development" in bilateral defense ties.

Akhalaia, who met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Brussels on February 2, said in an interview with Rustavi 2 TV's weekly program Courier PS on February 5, that "new phase" of defense cooperation was about shifting focus from training Georgian troops for Afghan deployment to assisting Georgia in its "territorial defense, self-defense."

Asked whether Georgia should expect "a progress including in supply of air defense" systems - something the Georgian authorities say they want to buy from the U.S., Akhalaia responded: "If we now start talking only about types of arms, that would be somewhat underestimation of the entire process, because this process as a whole is a large-scale development, which includes many elements."

He said he would not go into details now, but also added that relevant authorities from the U.S. and Georgia would soon launch developing "concrete issues that are important for Georgia's self-defense capabilities."

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