US President Barack Obama has met Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili at the White House, marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries.
Obama said his country appreciates the conducted reforms in Georgia aimed at democratization and respect for the rule of law.
“We appreciate the model of democracy and transparency, created by Georgia in the region”- said the President. — ” We also expect that Georgia will be held free and fair elections”. He described Georgia as a “responsible player in the international arena.”
After speaking about the possibility of a free trade agreement with Georgia, Obama held out the golden bait of NATO membership to Saakashvili.
“We talked about how we will strengthen our defense cooperation,” Obama said. “I reaffirmed to the president and assured him that the United States will continue to support Georgia’s aspirations for ultimately becoming a member of NATO.”
Mr Saakashvili told the media that their “relationship has been elevated to a new level”. He thanked the U.S. for its support.
Meanwhile, former Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze believes that Saakashvili, in an effort to retain his presidential post, may draw the country into a war against Iran.
“I don’t rule out that to retain the [presidential] chair Saakashvili may join a military campaign against Iran, which would become a catastrophe for our country,” Shevardnadze said, as cited by “Georgia on-line” news portal. Shevardnadze speculated the issue may have been a subject of discussion during the White House meeting between the American and Georgian leaders.