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Georgia will sign a strategic partnership treaty with the United States
Georgia will sign a strategic partnership treaty with the United States on January 9, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The agreement will be signed in Washington by Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said. The signing was originally scheduled for Sunday but was delayed by recent events in the Middle East.

The United States signed a similar deal with Ukraine earlier this month, which along with Georgia is hoping to join NATO. The alliance pledged to boost ties with the two ex-Soviet countries at a ministerial meeting earlier in December, although it did not offer them Membership Action Plans, which provides assistance to countries wishing to join NATO.

The details of the pact have not been announced, but according to preliminary information it will include support for reform in Georgia and strengthening of the country's armed forces.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said that by establishing a strategic partnership "with the biggest and strongest state in the world ... relations will reach a new level of security not only in Georgia, but in the whole region."

"With the agreement signed Georgia will become stronger and will be able to travel the path to restoring its territorial integrity," he said.

Georgia lost control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in bloody post-Soviet conflicts in the early 1990s. The two republics, bolstered by Russian peacekeepers, have had de facto independence since then, and have been a bone of contention between Georgia and Russia.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states on August 26, two weeks after a five-day war with Georgia, triggered by Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia.

 


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