US Remains Committed to Conduct Train-and-Equip Program – US Official Says

(Tbilisi, March 30, Civil Georgia) – “The exact scheduling of the arrival and deployment of the US train-and-equip team is independent of any Russian troop withdrawal decisions,” Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman of the US Department of State said at the news briefing on March 29.

Reeker commented on Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov’s statement that deployment of American Special Forces in Georgia might have an effect on the time frame of withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia.

“The President, I think, has made quite clear that he remains committed to conducting this train-and-equip program in Georgia, and the preparation needed to move forward is on track,” the US Department of State official said.

Reeker stated that Russia’s 1999 Istanbul summit commitments on withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia are, as I say, completely separate from the US train-and-equip program, and Russia has already fulfilled some of those commitments.

“We call upon Russia to work with Georgia to resolve the remaining issues and fulfill all remaining commitments as quickly as possible.  In the meantime, we will be working with the Georgians on our program, much as we have described,” Deputy Spokesman stated.

US Department of State official noted that the exact deployment of the train-and-equip team, its scheduling, is something “I just don’t have any details on at this point”.