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  Monday, February 17, 2020
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Georgia's foreign minister will arrive in the U.S. on Monday
Georgia's foreign minister will arrive in the U.S. on Monday to seek Washington's support in a row with Russia, which Tbilisi accuses of trying to annex parts of its territory, the Foreign Ministry said.

Georgia has reacted furiously to Russia's announcement on Wednesday that it plans to strengthen its ties with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which border on Russia and broke away from Georgia in wars after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze said Thursday that Russia's plans to give legal status to companies in the two provinces and to cooperate with their governments was "an attempt to annex two Georgian regions."

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Russia's outgoing President Vladimir Putin had instructed that measures be drawn up to provide support for the population in the breakaway regions.

On Thursday, Bakradze said Georgia is urging the UN Security Council and the OSCE to call emergency meetings on the issue.

The Georgian diplomat will hold meetings at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, and on Tuesday and Wednesday will meet with White House representatives in Washington. He is also expected to meet with U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

After his U.S. trip, Bakradze will head for Germany to meet with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has demanded that Russia abandon its plans to strengthen cooperation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying the moves violate Georgia's sovereignty.

"We demand that the Russian Federation revise all decisions made in violation of Georgia's sovereignty. Our efforts will be aimed at mobilizing the international community. We need serious action, not just words from our partners in the next days and weeks," the Georgian leader told a Cabinet session.

Ex-Soviet breakaway regions have stepped up their drive for independence since Kosovo's declaration of independence in February. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with Moldova's Transdnestr, have since asked Russia's parliament, the UN and other organizations to recognize their independence.

Georgia is seeking to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the Georgian leader has proposed granting Abkhazia broad autonomy and establishing a free economic zone in the separatist province, but Abkhazia rejected the offer.


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