“We have not talked about sending US troops into combat there [Georgia], and don’t plan on that,” Richard Boucher, Spokesman of US Department of State stated at the news briefing on February 27.
US media sources reported on February 27 that US Special Sources will be send to Georgia to open new front of war on terrorism in Pankisi gorge, Georgia where Al Qaeda and Chechen fighters are harboring.
Boucher said that Georgia and the United States have been working cooperatively over the past several years to enhance the country’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities. The US and the Georgian government have enjoyed a strong security assistance relationship for more than five years.
“We are now working on a train-and-equip assistance program for the Georgian Ministry of Defense and other security forces. The program will assist Georgia in developing the capability to control its own borders, and to conduct limited counterinsurgency operations against terrorist elements,” Boucher stated.
Georgian authorities also deny reports and say that no military operation is intended in Pankisi gorge.
“There is no talk on military operation,” Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili stated on February 27, commenting visit of US military delegation to Georgia.
Delegation of US Department of Defense visited Georgia on February 27 to discuss the issue of military assistance to Georgia.
U.S. European Command officials, working with their Georgian counterparts, are in the early stages of the planning for the train and equip program, said Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the news briefing on February 27.
“Proposal to move forward that would make sense to both of our governments,” Pace said. “It has not been approved. It is simply an assessment that is ongoing to see where Georgia thinks they may need assistance, and for us to see where we want to help.”
“The first part, we are still very much in the formative stages, in the assessment stage, in the planning between the U.S. European Command military folks and their counterparts in Georgia. Once they’ve fleshed out a plan and have it ready for proposal to both of our governments, they will do that. So the number of trainers and the duration, those kinds of things is all part of what would eventually come forward, but right now it’s very much in the formative stages and, again, needs to be submitted to both governments for approval,” Gen. Peter Pace stated.
Russian authorities express concern regarding the US military assistance to Georgia and mounts pressure. Chairman of Russian Duma Council Dmitry Ragozin stated on February 27 that the Committee will discuss the issue of recognizing sovereignty of breakaway Republic of Abkhazia. Georgian authorities regard the statement as a threat of open aggression of Russia towards Georgia.
Russia constantly offers Georgia to pass joint military operation in Pankisi gorge to crack dawn on criminals and terrorists harboring in there. Georgian Foreign Minister stated on February 28 that Georgia will never accept Russia’s proposal.
“The United States offers us only a financial and technical assistance to combat terrorism and never asked to pass joint military operation in Pankisi – this is acceptable for us,” Georgian Foreign Affairs Minister Irakli Menagarishvili stated.
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