Secretary Pompeo Meets Georgian Leaders as Opposition Holds ‘Silent Protests’
On November 18, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Georgian leaders, including President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani, amid opposition’s “silent protests” in downtown Tbilisi.
At the meeting with the top American diplomat, that was attended by Acting Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker and U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan, President Zurabishvili underscored that Georgia remains a reliable U.S. ally amid the recent regional developments.
“Our relations will strengthen through the deepening of strategic partnership, cooperation on Black Sea security issues and U.S. support for Georgia on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. These issues have strong support among the Georgian and American public and in across the political spectrum,” the Georgian President stated.
President Zurabishvili also touched upon trade relations, expressing hope that U.S.-Georgia cooperation will advance further and negotiations on a free trade agreement will begin.
The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi said on its part that at the meeting with President Zurabishvili, “the Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and commended the country for it significant contributions to the fight against global terrorism.”
Good to see President @Zourabichvili_S in Tbilisi today. U.S. cooperation with Georgia is of paramount importance, and our support for Georgia’s sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation is unwavering. pic.twitter.com/L89OzNw8g6— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 18, 2020
Later, Secretary Pompeo met with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani at the Government Administration.
PM Gakharia expressed gratitude for the continuous U.S. support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. “We feel that this is the great moment for enhancing our cooperation, for enhanced partnership of our countries and enhanced presence of the United States in this region,” Georgian Prime Minister told U.S. Secretary of State.
On his part, Secretary Pompeo stressed that “we want to do everything we can to support your democratic process, the building out of the institutions… and develop these institutions in ways that are important, with free and fair elections.”
According to the U.S. Embassy, at the meeting, State Secretary Pompeo “emphasized the importance of electoral and judicial reform.”
The sides reportedly also discussed the United States’ support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
As the State Secretary held meetings with Georgian leaders, the opposition parties, that are contesting the results of the October 31 parliamentary elections, are holding “a silent demonstration” in various locations of the downtown of Tbilisi, holding the U.S. and Georgian flags to protest “rigged elections.”
The top U.S. diplomat’s agenda does not include the meetings with the opposition leaders, however.
Secretary Pompeo also met with the Georgian Orthodox Church leader Ilia II at the Georgian Patriarchate headquarters, as well as he plans to hold a round-table discussion with Georgian civil society organizations.
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